The lack of diversity among this year’s nominees makes me wonder if my own achievements will be overlooked because of the color of my skin.
WHEN last year’s Oscar nominations came out, #OscarsSoWhite started trending on social media. Even though I was disappointed that people of color were not recognized as nominees, I still watched the Academy Awards.
When the 2016 nominations came out, my heart sank. I thought the academy had learned its lesson after the backlash from last year’s lack of diversity, but sadly I was mistaken. I doubt I will be able to watch the Oscars on Sunday without feeling angry.
Many people of color were overlooked for their hard work in film his year. Michael B. Jordan is one of Hollywood’s rising stars, and his film “Creed” was a critical and box-office hit. I was sure he would be nominated for an Oscar, along with fellow actor Sylvester Stallone and director Ryan Coogler. In the end, only Stallone was nominated.
I feel the same way about the lack of nominations for “Straight Outta Compton.” Director F. Gary Gray deserved to be recognized for bringing this cinematic masterpiece to life. Yes, the screenwriters received a nomination for their work, but it is unacceptable that the only people nominated for that film are white when the majority of the cast and crew is black.
The lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees is upsetting to me because it makes me wonder if my own professional skills and efforts will be overlooked just because of the color of my skin. As West African immigrants to the United States, my family and I chose to move to Seattle in order to have the opportunity to work in any field that we desired. My parents were only blessed with girls, and our society back home in Senegal expected us to grow up and get married without even caring about having a career or having any purpose in life besides having children. My parents empowered us to follow our dreams, even if it meant moving to the United States.
The process of integration and diversity is painstakingly slow, but the academy must focus on including more people of color in its voting pool so that this incident does not repeat itself for a third time. Only 7 percent of the academy’s members are people of color, based on 2013 figures.
It seems that academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a black woman, has taken notice of the public’s backlash. In January, the academy announced a set of changes intended to increase the diversity of its members, including a pledge to make its membership and governing committees more inclusive.
This push for progress is a solid start in holding the academy accountable for its choices when picking nominees.