The Oscars and The Brits; the race issue lingers on

The Oscars and The Brits, what do both of these have in common? The nominees remain predominantly white.

The Oscars came around last week and as always had a lot of people disappointed to say the least. On the lead up to the Oscars there were many criticisms of the nominees lack of racial diversity, and within reason, all twenty acting nominations were handed to white actors leaving the likes of David Oyelowo in the dark, whose outstanding performance of Martin Luther King Jr left many in awe.

This isn’t new of course, the Academy Awards have been around since 1929 and in that time a total of 31 winners have been black. Let that sink in. 87 years have passed and thousands of movies produced yet the number of black winners remain so little. Before the 2015 Oscars 2701 statuettes in total had been presented, yet so little have graced the hands of people of colour.

For those who may not be able to grasp the gravity of the situation, the proof is in the info-graphics.

For the 87th Academy Awards, people of color were grossly underrepresented.

For the 87th Academy Awards, people of color were grossly underrepresented.

The optimism that followed ’12 Years A Slave’ winning three awards last year has been smothered as the Oscars went back to what we expect of it.

Yet we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that winning roles for people of colour usually follow this narrative. Aurin Squire of The New Republic demonstrates this perfectly:

“Let’s tally the roles for people of colour in Oscar-winning movies during the past 30 years: maid, waitress, slave-turned-soldier, supernatural servant/ghost whisperer, prisoner, prisoner again, slave again, chauffeur, drug-dealing crooked cop, welfare queen mother (Precious), and—why the hell not—a third slave.”

So it is unsurprising a movie with black people being liberated would not make the cut- it simply does not fit what the Academy likes seeing within films with a majority black cast.

With social media being intertwined in so many of our lives it is easier to show our outrage at the clear snubs. Hash tags such as #OscarsSoWhite spread throughout twitter in anger over the nominees.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 15.33.29

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 15.33.52

The Academy had the chance to make history if it had chose to nominate an African American female director but instead they chose five men. To add salt to the wound Selma had received an almost unseen of 99 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes- higher than any other Best Picture Nominee.

Does that not speak for itself?

And yes, there is the argument that the academy were only working with what they were given; however this cannot explain why Selma escaped notice from top categories.

Then to make matters worse the Brits -just two days ago- mirrored the Oscars with there being just one non-white winner.

Luckily for the award show more people are interested in Madonna’s tumble than Pharrell Williams being the only person of colour to win an award. It’s a shame considering the music industry can be praised for its diversity; looking at the award shows you wouldn’t think it.

Great films and music alike are having their backs turned on with no reasonable explanations being given. And with criticism comes the feeble attempts to defend the academy:

“Yes, most members are white males,” one anonymous voter told the Hollywood Reporter in dismissing Selma, but they are not the cast of Deliverance—they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies.”

But is there a reasonable explanation for this? No. No excuses can be conjured up in defence of what is happening. Yes, they may not be ‘snaggletoothed hillbillies’; but the lack of diversity in the award shows isn’t doing them any favours in proving otherwise. We are left searching for a unifying answer as to why people of colour remain unrepresented in award shows.

Looks like the award shows have a message for people of colour; “Access denied”.

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