#OscarsSoWhite has been trending on Twitter since the Oscar nominees were announced, in protest of a perceived lack of diversity in the nominees and today, two celebrities joined the outcry. Director Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith announced separately that they will not be attending the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28.
In an Instagram post, Lee thanked the Academy for the honorary Oscar he received in November, but decried the lack of nominations for artists of color. “How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? And let's not even get into the other branches.”
Lee also wrote that the “real battle” lies not with the Oscar nominations, but in the places of power within the Hollywood system where the “gatekeepers” reside who also remain mostly white. “The truth is we ain't in those rooms and until minorities are, the Oscar nominees will remain lilly white.”
“For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different...I would like the media to ask all the white nominees and studio heads how they feel about another all white ballot.”
Jada Pinkett Smith's Facebook video message (watch it below) was much less firey. Like Lee, the actress - whose husband Will Smith was tipped by some for a Best Actor nomination for his role in Concussion - mentioned the fact that she was posting her statement on Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, and spoke of people of color moving to distribute the spoils of their talents among themselves: “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?”
“Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and put them back into our communities 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.”