By: Sandra Glover
When April Reign started the hash tag #OscarsSoWhite on twitter she did not know the altitude that it will draw attention to the unspoken lack of diversity in the Academy Award show. In an interview last year she stated “It happened because I was disappointed once again in the lack of diversity and inclusion with respect to the nominees,” during the Oscars last year and the previous years there was an absence of colored people in the major acting categories. There were speculations of because the academy is still predominantly male, white and older there wouldn’t be a change because there will be a change.
From this there was an uproar within Black Hollywood and plenty response to the trending hash tag, this time last year Angela Bassett discussed the Oscars on The Breakfast Club radio show she stated “When I see more inclusion, that’s when I can get more excited, when I see the work of what life looks like”. At an event with Ava DuVernay “Diversity is a medicinal word that has no emotional resonance, and this is a really emotional issue, it’s emotional for artists who are women and people of color to have less value placed on our worldview.” Earlier this year they asked the talented Viola Davis her thoughts on the Oscars So White, “Is it just going to be a trend to talk about inclusion — and I’d rather say inclusion than diversity — or is it going to be a norm that we’re all part of the narrative, that all of our stories deserve to be told, and that art indeed has to reflect life and our culture? And people are going to demand it.
This year the Oscars that aired on ABC this past Sunday at 8:30pm was very different than the past ones. We as Black actors and actress were given the praise and recognition that we deserve. This year a record-breaking number of African Americans six in five categories where in the previous record were three at the shows in 2010 and 2014. Viola Davis was awarded Best Supporting Actress for “Fences” where she had an emotional acceptance speech that left the audience in tears, “You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard, exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost”. While saying this speech the first thing that came to mind was the killing of Trayvon Martin that occurred 5 years ago, this is one of the many people who dreamed big and never got to saw those dreams these are the stories that people should be “exhume and exalted of the ordinary people”. Another groundbreaking moment in tonight’s award show was Mahershala Ali was awarded for Best Supporting Actor for “Moonlight” and broke a barrier as the first Muslim Actor to win an Oscar. While Tarell Alvin accepted the award of The Adapted Screenplay Oscar with Barry Jenkins in his acceptance speech he dedicated his award to African-Americans “This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming that don’t see themselves. We’re trying to show you and us. So thank you, thank you, this is for you.” Last but not least, “Moonlight” wins Best Picture after being mistakenly mixed up with “La La Land”. However, “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz interrupts acceptance speeches with the news that the wrong victor had been named. While the production of “Moonlight” was in shock of taking such a victory, producer Adele Romanski made a surprising acceptance speech “ I hope even more than that it’s inspiring to people, little black boys and brown girls and other folks watching at home who feel marginalized and who take some inspiration from seeing this beautiful group of artists held by this amazing talent, Barry Jenkins”.