Opinion: #OscarsSoWhite hashtag is not going away

Natalie Portman wearing an embroidered dress with names of directors that were left out of the Oscars nomination. Photo courtesy Buzzfeed

As the 2020 nominations were released for the 92nd Academy Awards, Twitter went up in arms about the lack of diversity. In 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate any people of color for an Oscar. This was the second year in a row.

This year, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, started by April Reign, has resurfaced, as only one nonwhite actor, Cynthia Erivo, who played Harriet Tubman in the movie “Harriet,” was nominated.

The Oscars also nominated only men in the Best Director category, which has been a trend in Academy Award history.

@kirkwrites79 wrote, “there are actual Black women directors like Chinonye Chukwu and performances from Alfre Woodward, Eddie Murphy, Kelvin Harrison, Jr and Jamie Foxx that were ignored. #OscarsSoWhite is for them.”

Others, like @melsil said, “This work is a marathon not a sprint. It will take a long time for systemic change. But we will keep going #OscarsSoWhite (and male).”

In the history of this awards ceremony, only five female filmmakers have been nominated for best director. Kathryn Bigelow is the first and only woman to win in the category, in 2010 for her Iraq War film “The Hurt Locker.”

Movies like Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady On Fire,” or Melina Matsouka’s “Queen & Slim,” were overlooked this year.

On FSU’s campus, two students weighed in on what they think of the Oscars and diversity. Sophomore Kelvin Nguyen, a choral music education major, thinks this year’s Oscars directly reflect the society we live in today.

“It says something about its lack of diversity because for Latin American and Black people, they only get a chance to recognize themselves at the BET awards, Latin American awards,” Nguyen said.

Second year music performance student, Anthony Salabarria said this year’s Oscars are no different than the previous ones.

“White has been predominantly the majority. The influence on that is just the correlation that the more we get diversity in general, we will have diversity in awards,” Salabarria said.

Anthony also believes that this year’s nomination for ‘Harriet’ is a hoax. “If it was any other topic besides a historical figure, she wouldn’t be nominated at all,” he said.

Performer Janelle Monae called out the Oscars for its discrimination during her time on stage at Sunday’s ceremony.

As the show’s opening number, Janelle sang, “It’s time to come alive, because the Oscars is so white!”

Actor Natalie Portman used her platform on the red carpet to point out women who should’ve been in the best directors category. Her dress was black and gold with a cape that had the directors’ names embroidered on the outside.

“I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman said when asked about her fashion.

The snubbed female directors featured on Portman’s cape included Lorene Scafaria, Lulu Wang and Greta Gerwig.

Ironically, the Oscars took place during Black History Month but the tributes were short.

Only six Black men have been nominated for Best Director in the 92 year history of the Oscars; John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Jordan Peele, Barry Jenkins, Steve McQueen, and Spike Lee. Not one of them has won. No Black woman has been nominated either.

Additionally, only two Black people have ever been nominated for any of the sound categories. Russell Williams won in 1990 and 1991, while Willie D. Burton won in 1989 and 2007.

In the future, the Oscars should take this criticism and try to work harder for next year’s show because the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag will not go away.