I was on Twitter recently and apparently the Oscar nominations have come out thus creating a new hashtag. #OscarsSoWhite flooded my timeline showcasing the disdain that people of color, and some not of color, had for the white washed Oscars. As I scrolled through a few tweets, my eyes began to roll. Why? I remembered that we go through this every year or at least every other year. My first thought was I don’t watch the Oscars. My second thought was why do we keep feeding into the thought that the Oscars is the end all, be all. Lastly, I circled back around to the fact that this is NOT new.
After all of my thoughts cleared, I decided to refresh the memories of my people. I decided to tweet out my disdain for them even thinking our works would be appreciated or nominated this year. I am completely and utterly shocked to see that we are still putting a value in a system that was not meant to appreciate our works or our people. After my shock wore off I started to wonder how I could be upset with those tweeting their frustrations. We’ve been condition to think that winning an Oscars is everything. In some respect it is, for some. Everyone who wins an Oscar does not always get the happy ending they thought they would. We all remember how Monique won the Oscar for the movie Precious, and then disappeared. Winning an Oscar works for those who play the game. It just so happens that black people, specifically, don’t get an opportunity to play the game too often.
For example, the Academy Awards has been in existence since 1929. In that time let’s look at how many have been nominated and have won for acting. There have been 28 nominations for the role of leading actor/actress as of the 87th Annual Academy Awards. Those nominations are made up of 13 men and 10 women. There have been 35 nominations for the role of supporting actor/actress. Those nominations are made up of 16 men and 19 women. Now, let’s look at how many actually won. Drumroll please. The number of actual winners for acting roles is 15 (4 leading men, 1 leading woman, 4 supporting men, 6 supporting women). That means of the 63 nominations we have only won 14%. In 87 years that this show has been in existence, African Americans have only successfully walked away with 15 awards.
Can I stop to side eye real quick? The sad part about this, besides the statistics, is that many of the nominations are repetitive. Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx and William Smith account for 13 of them. The other sad part is that Halle Berry is the only black woman to ever win an Oscar for a leading role. To put this all in perspective there have been 299 Academy Awards given for the categories of both leading and supporting actors/actresses since its inception. That means that African Americans make up 5% of the wins and 21% of the nominations.
It’s enough to make you angry, but at the same time I look at it and just shake my head. This award show was created in 1929, and we are still allowing it to control how we view our worth. Why can’t we build upon our own award shows? Why can’t we invest in our own to bring them up to the caliber where we can feel validated?
How long will we continue to look outside ourselves to find appreciation in a place that we have never been accepted? Validate yourself, your people, and keep it moving. Let’s get to the point where we can say “Oscars we don’t need you” because the award…goes to us.
Monique explains her reasoning on why we should place more value on the NAACP Image Awards than the Academy Awards. Watch below:
Academy Awards Database.” Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 22 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Jan. 2016. <http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/BasicSearchInput.jsp>.
“List of Black Academy Awards Winners and Nominees.” Wikipedia, 15 Jan. 2016. Web. 17 Jan. 2016.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees#Best_Actor_in_a_Leading_Role.