The Academy Awards Diversity Problem, And Why Old White Men Don’t Have To Get It

Academy Awards DIversity Problem
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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.  

I don’t expect a white man, woman or child to come out of their comfort zone. I sure as hell try to stay in mine.  But I do appreciate when they do.. We live a country and even more, a world, where “success” is based on racial and economic disparity. White people have been taught, just as blacks and Africans have, that their bubble is a safe space, and venturing out can be scary and dangerous. They have been taught to understand the struggles of other races, but not to identify or relate to them. Even when it comes to poor white people, a trailer park in still better than a ghetto,  an armed white militia, is still less threatening than a hooded black man, and film showcasing the black struggle, isn’t as palatable as the film showcasing the white triumph. These are things we’ve known, and have come to tolerate. So when people keep talking about how people of color were excluded from the Oscars nominations, I feel like the real argument should be exactly how many people of color are there in the room making these nominations?

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.

I usually appreciate the films that are nominated by the academy, and oftentimes I agree with their choices of who should receive that prestigious honor. But now, I’m starting to see that we need a more diverse academy, that represents the films and actors that, unfortunately, we are not seeing. So I don’t blame those persons in the Academy who vote  for being white, I blame the academy for having too many persons who vote who are white.