#OscarsSoWhite may be resolved, but calls for diversity remain


Diversity in Entertainment

Erin Zaranec

On Jan. 24, the Oscar nominations once again took over social media and, for the first time in two years, the #OscarsSoWhite trending hashtag didn’t accompany the list of nominations.

Following two years of all-white nominations in the four acting categories, the field of Oscars nominations are now the most racially diverse they have been in decades. With actors like Denzel Washington and Dev Patel, and actresses like Ruth Negga and Octavia Spencer recognized, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is receiving less criticism this year than in the past.

While seven of the 20 acting nominations are held by non-white actors, some question if various definitions of diversity are being truly represented by this year’s nominations.

The LGBT community received representation this year through “Moonlight,” which was nominated for its cinematography, directing, film editing, music, writing and acting.

The movie, also nominated for best picture, follows the coming-of-age story of a gay black man in Miami. According to NBC News, an LGBT movie has never won best picture, giving “Moonlight” a chance to put a spotlight on the community.

“With the amount of division the recent election has caused in our nation, among many groups of people, there could be no better time to have an LGBTQ movie in the Oscar nominations,” said Jesse Gettemy, a senior communication studies major. “While the LGBTQ community is still underrepresented in media, this movie and the nominations shed a light on a group that is still striving for equality.”

Native Americans are also underrepresented in this year’s Oscars nominations.

“In general, I feel that Natives are often portrayed in the past, and not enough in modernity. We have interesting histories, but some people don’t even know we still exist,” Danielle Martin-Jensen said, a graduate translation student and president of the Native American Student Association.

The last time Native Americans made waves during The Oscars was in 1973, when Marlon Brando refused to accept the Oscar for his performance in “The Godfather” and instead sent Native American Sacheen Littlefeather, who delivered a moving speech declining Brando’s award due to the treatment of Native Americans.

“I’m not sure about the degree of change in the last few decades but it seems to me that in the present, in the mainstream, we are still minor characters or sidekicks most of the time,” Martin-Jensen said.

Erin Zaranec is a features correspondent for the Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected].