Why I Won’t Be Watching the Oscars

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NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS) — I won’t be watching the Oscars this year. And yes, it is because of #OscarsSoWhite, the lack of representation of people of color and the Academy’s ignorance to not honor the best performances of 2015.

I’m a young biracial girl so not seeing anyone who looks like me on screen is a big turnoff. I used to watch the Oscars every year. My family would have a contest to see who could correctly guess the most winners. The only prize was bragging rights but we took the game seriously. This year, as long as I guess “a white person” I would win.

I understand that it is unlikely that I’d see an abundance of young women take over the Oscars, but the fact that, for the second year in a row, nobody who has any shared cultural experiences with a large portion of this country feels that the Academy is being discriminatory and exclusionary. A few of the nominees have spoken about the lack of diversity but it’s just not enough to win me over.

Now, I don’t want actors of color to be nominated just to make it “fair.” I want the Academy to evaluate all actors on the strength of their performances. If my family had a vote Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”) would have been nominated. And we definitely would have found someone besides the two white screenplay writers to nominate from “Straight Outta Compton.”

It no longer becomes an issue about the lack of a nomination for a movie my family loved, but about the jarring reality that white actors are being chosen for nominations over non-white counterparts that deserve it just as much.

I just read about the DuVernay Test, a New York Times critic’s take on the Bechdel test: A standard that demands movies give “African Americans and other minorities … fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories.” To me it is a great way to make a difference in the way movies are made and how women of color are perceived. The fact that women in the test need their own individuality instead of supporting a white story should already be a given but it is great that people are acknowledging that this needs to change. This needs to be a step in society to help represent women of color in the media and in entertainment.

Especially since the Oscars are the biggest and most prestigious award show, it disappoints me to see that the Academy is trying to preserve an image that does not represent everyone.

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