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Lack of racially diverse nominees of the Oscars sparks criticism

john legend and common oscars 2015.jpg

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar best actor and actress nominations earlier this year, the absence of people of color, for the second time since 1998, sparked heavy criticism against the voting members of the academy. Though actor/actress nominations were not representative of the larger population, this year’s Oscar’s stage was graced with what the LA Times called, “the most diverse group of performers and presenters in Oscars history.” Among those who presented awards were Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Lopez, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, and Oprah Winfrey. "The presentation [of minorities] onstage does not bear any resemblance to the nominees and therefore the winners," said the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has not been silent on his feelings about lack of diversity in Hollywood. "One has to wonder whether or not the academy was trying to compensate with optics for what they didn't do with operations."One memorable moment from the night came when John Legend and Common (both black artists) performed their song “Glory” from the film “Selma,” which was nominated but didn’t win. “Glory” went on to win for best original song later in the evening. “It is not on accident that only the presenters and performers were black and brown people. We are seen as clever accessories in this country,” said Raul Kepur, a sophomore business major from San Diego, Calif. Another moment to be celebrated in terms of diversity came when Mexican director Alejandro G. Inarritu was given a standing ovation for best picture for “Birdman.” In receiving the award, Inarritu passionately dedicated his award to his, “fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve.”While presenting the award to Inarritu, Sean Penn commented, “Who gave this guy a green card?” sparking outrage on Twitter. Author Lauren Morrill tweeted “Don’t care if Sean Penn was joking. Not your moment. Not your culture. Not appropriate.” However, Innarritu told the New York Daily News, “I found it hilarious. You know, Sean and I have that kind of brutal relation where only true friendship can survive. I didn’t find it offensive.” While the top Oscar categories were sans people of color this year, more than a few acceptance speeches on Sunday addressed the overall lack diversity felt in the awards themselves. In John Legend’s acceptance speech, he said, “We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real.” Legend continued, addressing the school to prison pipeline and stated, “There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”Commentary addressing issues in the non-white community rose above the lack of representation in this year’s presentation. “If there is no space for us to be, we will create it. Best believe that,” said Barbara Harris, a freshman in HTM from Riverside, CA. Harris went on to explain the importance of representation in filmmaking, especially for youth of color in America. “Too often we are forgotten until our name appears on a gravestone or we are filling roles in movies enforcing harmful stereotypes. This needs to change.”For a more in depth coverage of the awards and those who received them, visit Uploaded March 5, 2015
Writer: Morgynne Tora