Oscar nominees lack diversity but not talent

The 20 actors nominated this year for an Oscar award are white, which has brought into question the diversity of the awards.

About 94 percent out of the nearly 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, those who determine the winners through votes, are primarily white, according to an article from The Economist.

Minorities are generally underrepresented in the film industry.

Many prominent figures in the black community, such as director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, have opted not to attend the ceremony and plan to boycott in protest of the lack of people of color who were nominated for awards.

With the upcoming 2016 Oscars, known formally as the 88th Academy Awards, a familiar hashtag is resurfacing: #Oscarssowhite.

Do I believe the Oscars are biased just because there are a substantial number of white actors receiving appraisal? No.

Do I believe the Oscars are lacking in racial diversity and need to address this dilemma? Yes.

The film awards season is a time for recognition of the best.

A time in which, as Neil Patrick Harris said at the 2015 Oscars “We celebrate Hollywood’s best and whitest. Sorry…brightest.”

Aside from the satirical humor by the host, he did tackle an issue that’s been plaguing the film industry.

As the hashtag points out, the problem with the Oscars lies mainly in its lack of representation of other ethnicities. In the 88 years that the awards have endured since 1929, the most dominant race in the film industry has been white.

However, a lack of diversity in the Oscars may not be a blatant refusal or a bias towards nominating and recognizing diverse talent.

Actress Hattie McDaniel was the first black person in history to win an Oscar in 1940 for her role in “Gone with the Wind.”

In 1964, Sidney Poitier, an iconic symbol of African American acting, became the first black man to receive an award for best actor for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.”

Denzel Washington, James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Lupita Nyong’o from, “12 Years a Slave” and many other well known black actors have won Oscars for their amazing performances. Point being, African Americans have been well represented, just not as abundantly.

The hashtag unfairly dismisses the true reason behind the film industry’s “should be” purpose, which is entertainment.

O’shea Jackson Sr., who is better known as rapper “Ice Cube” and a producer of the film “Straight Outta Compton,” said that “We don’t do movies for the industry. We do movies for the fans, for the people.” Cube essentially debunked the hashtag and boycott as “ridiculous,” according to Vulture magazine.

Leonardo Dicaprio has given excellent performances and, regardless of his ethnicity, is deserving of his nomination. Although performances can be interpreted differently, many viewers believe the same.

What you think is good isn’t necessarily good to me and vice versa. I understand that not everyone is a fan of films like “The Revenant,” but ethnicity doesn’t correlate with how well a person performs.

Actors and actresses don’t possess the right to choose what color or race another actor should be in order to be recognized.

Bringing entertainment to an audience is part of their job description and is no basis to belittle their hard work by focusing on their ethnicity instead of their talents.

If anything, the Oscars are a highly global backdrop for people of color, as you might have seen in 2015. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu advocated for Mexican rights, and recording artists Common and John Legend spoke about blacks in prison.

By contrast, Latinos and Asians have had significantly tougher times landing roles than African Americans have, according to The Economist.

Essentially, the Oscars don’t have a bias, they just need a bit of diversity.

As for the handful of people boycotting the ceremony, in the words of Spike Lee, I advise only this: “Do the right thing.”