Are The Oscars really institutionally racist?
As the furore lingers on over the lack of ‘black’ nominations in this year’s Oscars; and A-List actors contemplate a boycott, one does have to wonder whether they are really institutionally racist.
As a white male, I’m aware I have no right to pontificate on the struggles that I have been fortunate not to endure (by a sheer fluke of my birth); but I do often wonder whether histrionics such as these will have perverse, and unintended consequences.
The term ‘institutionally racist’ has been levied at many organisations in recent years; and perhaps rightly so. But is the lack of a black nomination indicative of a racist Oscars committee?
Let’s assume I know nothing of the committee members, their judging criteria, or any personal motivations behind their nominations (I don’t). A rough count of the nominees on the Oscar’s website shows roughly 20 actor nominees (from best to supporting) – along with a strategically-placed picture of a beautiful black lady advertising a link to ‘Oscar Fashion’; merged in amongst the nominees (I’m not sufficiently ‘down with the kids’ to know who she is).
Is it inconceivable that the 20 nominees have simply been the one’s who have delivered the best acting performances in recent times? If we take the US’ race and ethnicity data (from the bastion that is Wikipedia) we could assume – in a perfect world where all creeds are given equal opportunities (discuss) – that we should expect to see 13.2% black nominations (or 2.64 actors) at the Oscars. Without even hinting at a discussion on whether the sample size is adequate, we would also expect to see 17.1% of the Hispanic/Latino population to be represented in the nominations (or 11.7 actors). I don’t recall J-Lo voicing her displeasure…?
And as for the Brits and Aussies I spotted in there – what the…?
This brings us to the option of introducing ‘positive discrimination’ for the Oscars – but I can already hear the cries of ‘he/she only won because he/she is black’. Is this our Utopian vision for the future?
I don’t have all the answers, and I do not hail from an ethnicity that has endured wholescale suffering; but I do believe that this continuous highlighting of ‘a difference’ does not represent the best route to equality.
Maybe it’s a generational thing that will improve with time – I know my eldest sometimes perhaps wishes he was black. He’s got a point, you know – I certainly wouldn’t look as cool as Will.I.am in a buttoned-up lilac shirt, flat cap, shorts, and long black socks.
Celebrate our differences – embrace and endorse them – covet the facets you desire; but above all else; just get along with your life. On the latter point, I’m reminded of a joke I saw on Social Media recently:
A white man, black man, and an Asian Muslim walk into a bar…nothing happened – they’re just friends, and going for a drink is what normal people do.
Perhaps we should just single out and alienate those that don’t agree with such a fundamental principle.
If nothing else, this furore is ripe material for the 2016 Oscars host…Chris Rock.
Over to you…racist institution, or storm in a multicultural tea pot? Let everyone know in the comments section below.