Top 5 Moments: How black actors "won" the Oscars without taking home a statue

March 09, 2016

The theme of this year’s Academy Awards was unofficially #OscarsSoWhite. For the second year in a row, there were zero black actors nominated for acting awards, despite the bevvy of prolific films that came out featuring black actors—including Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Creed, and Concussion. The elephant in the room was the lack of diversity in the theater and it certainly did not go unnoticed by host Chris Rock, as well as many of the night’s presenters and winners. Despite no nominations for black actors, the message was glaring; the discrimination that black actors face was front-and-center on Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. Here are Top 5 moments when black actors won the night with their message for increasing diversity:

 

1. Chris Rock’s opening monologue was ten minutes of unforgiving jokes on racism and its existence beyond the award show.

He made light of the tense controversy, but while doing so emphasized that while no black actors being nominated is unfair, there are far more disturbing examples of racism towards black people that no one is talking about, but should be. “In this year’s ‘In Memoriam’ package,” Rock said “We will be showing black guys shot on their way to the movies.” Racism is real and Rock made us uncomfortably laugh while stirring dialogue in a necessary way.

 

2. The skit where black actors replace white nominees

Black people were not nominated in any of the acting categories, but when they took the stage, the world could not ignore their message for increasing inclusion. Although no black actors were nominated, in a way this Oscars was a winning night for them, in that it highlighted important issues of discrimination. While there were moments of triumph during the ceremony, more still needs to be done to promote inclusiveness of minorities in Hollywood. Black actors were markedly snubbed, but so were Asian, Hispanic, and Native American actors. One awards show cannot rectify the institutionalized exclusion of minority actors.
 
 

3. Kevin Hart gets censored while presenting.

Hart was on stage to present an award and took the time to offer an uplifting message that despite no nominations for black actors, this injustice is not the be-all-end-all of equality. Hart said that black actors are gifted performers who will continue their craft even if the Academy Awards won’t recognize them. He then congratulated all of the black actors who were snubbed. But, there was a bleep in his speech. The verdict is still out on what he had actually said, which appeared to only be “congratulations”. Even so, the censorship did not silence his message and only made it louder.

 

4. Stacey Dash confuses us all.

Fox News pundit and regressive thinker Stacey Dash has recently made statements like BET (Black Entertainment Television) is racist against whites and Black History Month should not exist. Safe to say, she is not a beloved advocate in the black community, which was part of the joke when Chris Rock called her onto stage as the new “Director of the Minority Outreach Program” for the Academy. She comes out proclaiming “Happy Black History Month!” to an audience awkwardly silent and confused. But the real butt of the joke was not the situation, it was Stacey Dash herself. Dash’s obstructive opinions were rightfully diminished by her being the punchline of joke. The Weeknd’s face during the moment pretty much sums up the unfortunateness that is Stacey Dash.

 

Chris Rock Goes to Compton to Talk Movies5. Chris Rock interviews movie-goers in Compton, CA.

In a hilarious pre-shot video, Rock asks random black movie-goers what they think of the Oscar nominees and the overall “Oscars So White” controversy. Not a single black movie-goer interviewed had heard of the nominated movies. I think that this shows more than that the Oscars are out of touch with black audiences, they are out of touch with the general public. The fact that people haven’t even heard of some of the nominees hints to the elitism of the Oscars. One of the men interviewed summed it up best, “I feel like most of you all are kind of old, so most of you aren’t really hip to what younger people like.” 

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