As the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag made its seemingly-annual return to the the Twittersphere upon the announcement of the 2016 Academy Award nominees, actors of color have taken to social media in response. This year’s controversy sparked yet again as a list of all-white actors are up for the top Hollywood honor, excluding a few noteworthy performances from films such as Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Beast of No Nation and Dope from the running. Another actor who was left out of the Oscars bid was Will Smith, who took on the NFL in his role as Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion.
Smith’s wife and fellow thespian Jada Pinkett-Smith took to social media over the weekend to voice her “deep disappointment” with the Oscar nods. Noting that “People of color are always welcomed to give out awards…even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments,” Mrs. Smith concluded that the treatment of black actors is one “in which we allow:”
At the Oscars…people of color are always welcomed to give out awards…even entertain, (pt. 1)
But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together? (pt 2) — Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment. J (pt 3)
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
Just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Smith expounded on her commentary with a special video message to her fellow entertainers of color. Calling for a withdrawal from “mainstream” award shows, Smith posed the question of whether or not people of color realize their power. Remarking that “begging diminishes dignity,” she also announced that she would neither attend nor watch this year’s Academy Awards. She did end her video with kind words for Chris Rock however, who will serve as host for the 2016 award show:
“Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? I ask the question, have we now come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group? That maybe it’s time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking other to do, that that is the place of true power. I’m simply asking the question.
Here’s what I believe: the Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whoever they choose. And now I think that’s it’s our responsibility now to make the change. Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources, and we put them back into our community, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called ‘mainstream’ ones. I don’t know. Here’s what I do know: begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity. And it diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful, and let’s not forget it.
So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love, and let’s do us. I got nothing but love.”
“I will not be at the Academy Awards, and I won’t be watching, but I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend. Good luck.”
Does Jada Pinkett-Smith raise a good point? Watch her comments below: