Two prominent African-American Hollywood stars — director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith — announced their boycott of the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Lee, 58, and Pinkett Smith, 44, responded to the widespread criticism and disappointment that emerged on Thursday when the list of nominees was revealed — a list that lacked any African-American or other minority names in the major categories for the second year in a row, according to CNN.
"Today is Martin Luther King's birthday, and I can't help but ask the question: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?" Pinkett Smith said in a video that she posted to her Facebook page. "Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. So let's let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let's do us, differently."
Pinkett Smith, whose husband, actor Will Smith, was snubbed from the nominations for his critically-acclaimed role in "Concussion," continued to say in the video that she would not be attending the Oscars ceremony this year, although she voiced her support for Chris Rock, the African-American actor and comedian set to host the Oscars, according to Fox News. Other Oscar "snubs" included Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation," Samuel L. Jackson in "The Hateful Eight," Michael B. Jordan in "Creed," and the film "Straight Outta Compton."
"We cannot support it and [I] mean no disrespect...But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white?" Lee wrote on Instagram. "Dr. King said, 'There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it's right.'
Lee added in his announcement that the "real battle" over racism in Hollywood is not with the Academy Awards but in "the executive offices of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks," according to CNN.
"People, the truth is we ain't in those rooms, and until minorities are, the Oscar nominees will remain lilly white," Lee said on Instagram.
#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, 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. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". 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. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)
A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on
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