Yes, it’s concerning that 94 percent of all Academy Award voters are white, and its perplexing that 76 percent are male, but does this alone account for a lack of racial diversity at this year’s Oscars? Keep in mind, this same block of voters awarded 12 Years a Slave with the Best Picture Oscar in 2014. Overall, the drama nabbed three Oscars out of nine nominations. And what’s more, two Academy voters actually admitted voting for the film for Best Picture without actually seeing it—a point which caused little public outcry when it was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
What about the clamor last year regarding Selma not winning Best Picture? Yes, Selma was a good film, but was it better than the highly inventive Birdman? And where was the celebration for Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu? After all, the Mexican-born director is racial minority in Hollywood. What’s the rationale behind celebrating one racial minority group at the expense of another?
Also bear in mind that this same group of old white men have awarded African Americans more Oscar nominations and wins that any other minority group. Where’s the outcry for lack of Hispanic diversity at this year’s ceremony? Where’s the outrage over Puerto Rican-born actor Benicio Del Toro not being nominated for his supporting role in the crime drama Sicario? What about Asians who have been largely absent from every year’s awards, except for when Ang Lee directs a film?
If you want specifics, let’s take a look at the racial breakdown of ethnic minority representation in the Oscar acting categories over the past 25 years.
Black Academy Award Nominees since 1990
Asian Academy Award Winners since 1990
So, yes, people are entitled to their opinion if they believe African Americans were underrepresented at this year’s Academy Awards, but it is irresponsible to ignore the other ethnic minorities that have been largely absent for the past two and half decades.
No Asian actor has won an Oscar since 1982 when Ben Kingsley, whose father is of Indian descent, won Best Actor for his portrayal of Gandhi. Where is the outrage that not a single Hispanic-American actor has been nominated in any acting category since 1993? Were you aware that Edward James Olmos is the only Hispanic-American actor ever to be nominated for Best Actor?
This isn’t a contest to see which group has been excluded more from the Oscars, but rather a call to acknowledge ALL the non-white actors and actresses, regardless of specific ethnicity, that may have been excluded from past Oscar ceremonies. If we only become indignant when black performers are excluded from the Oscars, we are unfairly diminishing the contributions of every Hispanic, Asian, or other non-white performer who has also been shut out.
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