For any black artist who has ventured into the mainstream world of media and entertainment, “Selma” director Ava Duvernay being snubbed by the Academy Awards is not surprising, but it’s still sad.
Duvernay’s landmark film won a best picture nod after she coaxed Oscar-worthy performances from actors such as David Oyelowo, who portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet Oyelowo, who was widely expected to win a best actor nod for his uncanny portrayal, was overlooked along with Duvernay, who did not win a best director nomination.
But the insults did not end there. After seeing “Selma” snubbed in nearly every Oscar category by Academy voters who are reportedly 94 percent white, 77 percent male with an average age of 63, Duvernay endured yet another indignity. She watched Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African American woman to head the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announce the nearly all-white Oscar nominees on King’s birthday. Then, in the face of widespread protest against the Academy’s whitest list of nominees in a generation, Duvernay witnessed the irony of Isaacs defending the Academy’s race problem.
When asked by New York magazine’s Vulture blog if the Oscars have a diversity problem, Isaacs said, “Not at all …”
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon.