The Academy Awards Diversity Problem Is Real
If you’re an older, wealthy, accomplished white man born in America and raised with the privilege that only white people can experience, then I don’t expect you to understand the importance of the film Creed. I definitely don’t expect you to identify with Eazy-E and Straight Outta Compton. And I certainly don’t expect you to go out of your way to try and identify with them either. Why you may ask ? Because I live in a world that wasn’t created by me, but for us, and this is why I’m not mad at the those who vote in the academy, but rather, the lack of people of color in the room doing the choosing, and the lack of people of color to choose from. That is the Academy Awards diversity problem.
We’ve seen this before, and will see it for years to come. We’ve seen what white privilege and supremacy has done to our culture, whether it is art, fashion or science. We know that in order for the superficial things to change like award shows, etc., we must first change the fundamentals. Why is an academy that houses women and people of color and women of both sexes made up of a voting body that is ninety four percent white and seventy seven percent male? Why is a culture of film, that’s supposedly dedicated to imitating life in all its forms, leaving so many out of the process of choosing what depicts life? We stand here in our righteous indignation and accuse people of not doing their jobs, when in fact, they are doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. It’s not a white person’s fault for not being able to see themselves in Straight Outta Compton. It only becomes their fault when they don’t allow a space for this story to be told.
The Academy Awards diversity problem is a huge issue. The voting body make-up is a huge problem, but those who make it up shouldn’t be blamed for how they have been raised to view the world, even if that view is through privileged, white colored lenses.
It’s time to go beyond blaming people for not voting on something they may be able to appreciate, and time to start adding people of different backgrounds to the process, so that there may be people in that group who can identify.
Yes the academy has announced that they are “changing” some policies, which will supposedly create a more diverse academy, however, not noticing the problem in the first place is why they had to institute these new measures. The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020. However, the Academy needs a lot more reform than just adding faces of color to the pool, it needs create a space for people of all backgrounds to want to engage in the process both technical and creative.