Oscars 2019: And the winner is…Diversity


It has been nearly four years since “#OscarsSoWhite” became a movement, with celebrities threatening to boycott the awards and widespread calls for reform. After a series of tense award seasons and moves to diversify the Academy, this year’s Oscars were noticeably more diverse this year. Films like “Green Book,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Roma” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” saw major wins and high-profile nominations. It seems that actors, artists and stories representing marginalised communities are finally getting the recognition that they deserve.

A highlight of the ceremony was director Spike Lee’s acceptance speech for his first non-honorary Oscar. In his speech, Lee acknowledged how the legacy of slavery has shaped his own life and artistic journey, and called upon the viewers to “make the moral choice between love versus hate.” Lee’s speech (along with the success of his film, “BlacKkKlansman”) is representative of a new racial awareness entering the mainstream.

This is not to say that the Oscars are ushering in a new era of absolute racial harmony. After all, Best Picture-winner “Green Book” has been met with criticism for “[building] a feel-good comedy atop an artifact of shameful segregation” and mocked by black comedians as trite and simplistic. It also should be noted that films such as “Green Book,” “BlacKkKlansman,” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” are all centred around themes of racism and injustice. We therefore, have to ask: Can we only ever see the black experience through this narrow prism of racial inquality?

Still, there is much to celebrate. The Oscar awards can appear self congratulatory and frivolous in the face of serious social and political problems, but the magic of the silver screen, the back drop to the Oscars’ can also be a powerful medium against, for example, the dehumanising effects of racism. Above all these films can both move people and entertain, and when it embraces diversity like it has done this year, the Oscar make me just a little bit more hopeful.

Nina Kambili