A new LA Times article, written by a White man, suggests that if the Oscars this year finally acknowledges people of colour, it will be “political.” “If it’s all-White again, nobody’s going to be happy and there might be a growing perception that the academy is out of touch,” says USC history professor Steve Ross, who then went on to muse that voters may choose a Black actor over a White actor due to “politics” and to avoid backlash. This article even quotes F. Gary Gray, director of Straight Outta Compton, and a Black American man, saying he won’t allow “politics” to govern his voting.
White actors getting an Oscar is not seen as political. That’s just business as usual (obvious and yet taken-for-granted institutional racism). People pointing out racism of the Academy and demanding that people of colour finally get recognition by an industry that sidelines diverse stories, is politics. The underlying presumption in this narrative is that people of colour can only ever achieve an Oscar statue through tokeism and because eliste White people are temporarily afraid of being called out for their racism.
Director of Selma, Ava DuVernay, says:
“This work needs to be done so people of colour can see themselves as real people on screen. That’s an issue of survival, essential to our personhood and our humanity and our dignity.”
The article also indulges in a subtle but notable critique of Twitter activism, as if it’s unfair that people of colour communicate their frustration for an industry upholding Whiteness.