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Protest for progress

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Jada Pinkett Smith’s movement to boycott the 88th Annual Academy Awards, which did not see any black actors nominated in major categories for the second year in a row, is an effective move that will bring to light a long history of discrimination and short sightedness on behalf of the Board.

The Oscars has always had an issue with diversity, and not just with black actors. Since its inception in 1928, only 6.7% of award winners have not been white (Time Labs). This year’s awards seem to be the tipping point after black actors in the critically acclaimed “Straight Outta Compton” were snubbed in favor of white workers who worked on production.

For my part, I think I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country and our Hollywood community great. And so when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it’s not reflecting that beauty,” actor Will Smith said in an interview on “Good Morning America”.

Even if it is not intentional, the Academy is sending a message that actors can only be successful and celebrated if they are white, which is incredibly damaging to the industry’s future. Smith is right: it is the responsibility of everyone in the film industry to ensure its diversity is recognized.

There seems to be subconscious discrimination within the industry where people believe if you are not a white male, you do not draw money at the Box Office or ratings for the Awards. That mindset is completely disproven by the commercial success of “Selma, “Creed,” and most prominently, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which drew $1,984,341,631 at the box office (courtesy of box office mojo).

The Academy needs to be held accountable if it refuses to recognize this. The purpose of the Oscars is to represent the very best of the film industry, and right now that clearly is not happening.

The very threat of a boycott has already had an effect. On Jan. 22, the Academy announced an overhaul in membership laws and established a plan to improve diversity by 2020. This movement has drawn the public’s attention to a long history of discrimination thanks to recognized stars and media figures involved. Boycotting the Oscars will ultimately affect the entertainment industry for the better.

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