Sunday, February 22, 2015

Walking the White Carpet

Tonight the Oscars are on television... yet another award show that is simply overrepresented by whites. Just as Mr. O'Connor wrote about the lack of diversity in the nominees for the Golden Globes, the 2015 Oscar nominees are predominantly white and do not portray the high levels of diversity that make up the American population. This year's Oscars has the most white nominees overall since 1998 - we are taking a step backward instead of forward.

Perhaps this is a result of the lack of representation of African Americans in the academy. The members of the academy all vote and ultimately decide who wins each Oscar.  However, the demographics of the academy clearly demonstrate the same trend as the nominees. In 2012, 94 percent of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was white and 77 percent were male. African Americans only composed three percent of the academy, which could possibly explain the lack of African American Oscar nominees and winners.

Out of over 2,900 winners throughout Oscar history, only 32 were African American. That is only one percent. 14.1 percent of the United States population is African American, so around 14.1 percent theoretically should be going to African Americans to represent their role in our society.

The Oscars are televised to over 200 countries. What message is America putting out to other countries if we rarely award African Americans? Giving only one percent of Oscars to African Americans conveys the idea that our country values the work done by whites more, and we are broadcasting this idea to hundreds of other countries. Is this the reputation we really want to have?

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