are the oscars finally ready to be more inclusive or is this just a fad?

January 25, 2017

Yesterday, the Acadamy Awards displayed progress on racial inclusion when it announced a record-breaking number (6) of Black actors who have received nominations for their achievements in a given year. And a record-tying 7 noms for actors of color, including Dev Patel, who is nominated for “Lion”. Denzel Washington received his 7th nomination and Viola Davis, her 3rd, for their roles in “Fences,” (my boyfriend) Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris for “Moonlight,” Ruth Negga for “Loving,” Dev Patel for “Lion” and Octavia Spencer for “Hidden Figures.” “Moonlight” screenwriter Barry Jenkins also made history as the first Black America to receive nominations for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Adapted screenplay at the same damn time, right alongside the film’s editor, Joi McMillon, who’s nom was another Black history first. Ava DuVernay’s “13th” also received a nomination for Best Documentary.

These incredibly well-deserved nominations are thrilling to see, but it’s hard to not notice the stark contrast between this year and the past two years, which saw zero nominations for Black actors. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t, right? But diversity and representation is a well-documented issue in Hollywood in general, and the awards circuit in particular. Black creatives have always been exceptional. So, why are they just being acknowledged? What corrective actions were taken to undermine the institutional racism at the core of the industry in just 1-2 years? Or is this the Academy showing us that they have black friends? That remains to be seen. For now, #oscarslesswhite is a thing.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor