Rev. Al Sharpton is calling on blacks to boycott the Academy Awards and not watch the broadcast after the mostly white and male voting members of the Academy nominated 20 white actors as giving the best performances of 2015.
While I’m not trying to rain on Sharpton’s parade, as an African-American I have to ask the question, What would be the point?
First, blacks as a whole don’t watch the Oscars. That’s not really our thing. Sure, some of us do, but not in the numbers that would matter. If anything, we usually digest the recap online the morning after. And even if every black in the country with a television tuned out, it wouldn’t make one bit of difference. Why? Because when was the last time you saw a commercial during the Academy Awards that was targeted toward black people? Exactly.
No, a better call, a much more thoughtful call to action would be to put Hollywood’s liberalism to work by calling on black Hollywood’s white Hollywood friends to sit this one out and refrain from walking the red carpet or attending the event. Maybe Rev. Sharpton doesn’t know this, but most Americans watch the Oscars for the red carpet first and then for the actual ceremony.
Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith missing in action on the red carpet is not the same as Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt not walking the red carpet. If you take away the people who all of America tunes in to see what they’re wearing, you send a message while affecting the show’s ratings and advertisers — and I believe at the end of the day that’s the point — to effect change. Black America, it’s time to flip the script and call on white Hollywood’s liberal actors to show some solidarity with their darker-skinned counterparts and just stay home.
White Hollywood needs to sit this one out. Them not being there is a much louder and more sincere statement than their attending and saying something political in their speech about the lack of blacks as they accept their award in their fancy clothes and jewels and exit stage left to do media interviews.
Sharpton and others who want to get the attention of the Academy’s voting members and create change would do better by affecting the Oscars’ ability to generate revenue with the annual broadcast. If the Oscars don’t have A-list actors on that red carpet and in the audience, nobody — black, white, Latino, Asian, or otherwise — will be watching. Maybe, just maybe, the Academy’s mostly white and male voting bloc that didn’t see any nomination-worthy performances by African-Americans in 2015 will see something wrong with that picture.
Sometimes being an ally means actually having to do something. It's time for an Oscars with no whites.
JASMYNE CANNICK was selected as one of Essence magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World, KCET’s Southern California Seven Women of Vision, one of the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40, one of Los Angeles’ Most Fascinating Angelenos by the L.A. Weekly, and one of The Advocate's 40 Under 40 leaders. Cannick is best known as an on-air commentator on the intersection of pop culture, politics and race. Follow her online at JasmyneOnline.com, @Jasmyne on Twitter and /JasmyneCannick on Facebook.