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Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee to Boycott This Year’s Oscars

Another year, another jaw dropping display of the disproportionate representation for our brown brothers and sisters by the most prestigious film organization on the planet, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. For the second year in a row, only white people have received nominations in the major acting categories, not only robbing thankless communities of color of their fair shot at applause and admiration for their efforts, but robbing all people of the marvels, the unique perspectives and talents of other people.

It’s enough of the same. If there’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that this just isn’t right, good. It’s enough of the same.

At the start of MLK Day, Jada Pickett Smith shared a video formally announcing her boycott of this year’s Academy Awards. In the video, the regal and soft-spoken woman shared:

Have we now come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgment or respect of any group?

The Academy Awards in and of themselves are an exclusive event meant to acknowledge the ‘haves’ over the ‘have nots’. In an event that spends more time interviewing their guests on who they’re wearing than it does asking for their opinions, their stories, their projects, it’s a contrived affirmation of who’s been dubbed good enough.

She goes on:

Maybe it is time to pull back our resources, and we put them back into our communities. Into our programs. And we make programs for ourselves that acknowledges us in ways that we see fit. That are just as good as what the so-called ‘mainstream’ wants.

Captioning the video, ‘We must stand in our power’ is more fitting than ever. Every day men and women, boys and girls are taking strides to better themselves, better their communities and better the world, meanwhile so much of the mainstream neglects there to be a problem at all.

We must stand in our power!We must stand in our power.

Posted by Jada Pinkett Smith on Monday, January 18, 2016

Spike Lee also took to Facebook to share his intent to boycott this MLK Day. Sharing a photo of a young Dr. King, Spike Lee prefaces:

#OscarsSoWhite…again

#OscarsSoWhite… Again.I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy…

Posted by Spike Lee on Monday, January 18, 2016

Growing up, I never had to look up at the screen and think, why aren’t there more faces like mine? I’ve never had to sit in my room and think, why does no one on TV have hair like mine? Now more than ever, when black men and women are writing, starring, producing and directing better movies than before… the Academy has the nerve to say to them, not good enough. Meanwhile, patting itself on the back for being white.

Earlier this year, Spike was given an ‘Honorary Oscar’ in his own ceremony. Great gesture, but like an honorary degree, it’s just another half-hearted symbol much like a participation award. Saying, the Academy didn’t think you deserved it then, but it’s good PR.

Sparing no qualms, Spike Lee rants eloquently:

I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!!

It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”.

For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken.

As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.

As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It’s Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio. Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don’t You Think It’s A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God’s Earth? I Ask, What’s The Hold Up? And Please… Don’t Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions.

It’s Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television, But Maybe We Can Learn From Them Too. Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A: The National Football League’s Rooney Rule. It’s Named After The Late Dan Rooney, Owner Of The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Rooney Was Also Chairman Of The League’s Diversity Committee.

The Rooney Rule States NFL Teams MUST Interview Minority Candidates For The Positions Of Head Coach And Senior Football Executives Before Hires. Since Being Put In Place Before The 2006 Season, African-American Hires Have Increased. Facebook And Pinterest Have Their Own Version Of The Rooney Rule To Hire Minorities. Why Can’t Hollywood Do The Same? It’s Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My Children’s Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A Great Diverse America.

Spike Lee
Filmmaker
Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York
MLK Day
January 18th, 2016

To someday living in a world where this does not need to be said.

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Hopefully we can turn the Oscars into the Affirmative Action Awards. Who needs awards/jobs based on merit? That’s just crazy talk.

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