White Hollywood Stars Say Black Actors Should Be ‘Patient’, And The Oscar Boycott Is ‘Anti-White Racism’

High profile back stars from Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith to Spike Lee will be boycotting this year’s Oscar’s ceremony in solidarity over the persistence of racism in Hollywood. But for one (white) nominee, this is all just a case of ‘racism against whites.’

First, veteran Hollywood star and Oscar-winner Michael Caine told black stars they must be ‘patient’ and await the point where they are permitted full entry to the Academy.

He was joined by actor Charlotte Rampling, who is nominated for Best Actress for her role in 45 Years, and will be competing against four other white actresses – Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan.

Not only will there be no black actor in this category, but there will be no black actor in any category of the Oscars in 2016. Not a single nomination.

However, like Caine, Rampling believes that black stars of Hollywood are making a fuss about nothing. Worse, that their calls for greater representation in Hollywood amounts to racism against her and her fellow white actors. She said during a radio interview on Friday:

“It’s racist to whites.”

“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.” Then, in a final fit of white privilege she added:

“Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted,”

“People will always say ‘Him, he’s not as handsome’ or ‘Him, he’s too black’ or ‘He’s too white.’ But does that necessarily mean there should be lots of minorities everywhere? What does it mean that [black actors] still think they are a minority?”

It would be a much better world if Rampling was right, if black actors were being judged on their merits and simply fell short. But if she truly believes this, her disconnect from reality is profound. As Variety points out:

In 1956, Variety ran a series of articles asking why there aren’t better roles for black actors. Three decades later, the situation hadn’t improved. On Feb. 19, 1982, Variety carried the front-page banner “NAACP faults film employment.”

Last year, the hopes for diversity were based on one film, Paramount’s “Selma,” which earned two nominations, for best pic and song (winning the latter). This year, there were more opportunities, including “Creed,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Chi-raq,” as well as “Beasts of No Nation.”

This year, it’s even worse.

Surprising omissions from the actor race this year included Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation,” Will Smith for “Concussion,” Michael B. Jordan from “Creed” and the many young actors in “Compton.”

To add insult to injury, despite the fact that Creed featured a black actor in the starring role, and was written by a black man – the only nominee was a white man.

Not only is Hollywood failing to acknowledge the black actors who have delivered breathtaking performances throughout the year, but the industry is also decades behind television in providing leading roles for black actors in mainstream movies which make them household names. As The Guardian discovered when they crunched the numbers:

2012 Los Angeles Times study found that nearly 94% of Oscar voters were white. Some 2% were black and 2% were Latino. More than three quarters of voters were male. The median age was 62.

So, let’s be clear, this is not about hurt feelings. This about a very real, systemic issue. And as these figures show, it’s not just on race where Hollywood fails to reflect the diversity of our societies.

It is far better that white stars stand in unity, like George Clooney and Michael Moore, to help transform Hollywood for the better – than they stick their head in the sands and continue to ignore an unjust status quo. But for some, the reality of racial prejudice is an ugliness they would rather pretend doesn’t exist.

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