Racism charge threatens Oscars; Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett stage boycott

News Desk

Angry black Hollywood actors are mobilising for boycott of the 2016 Oscars Academy Award over a skewed nomination for the prestigious award in which no black person is included.

Famous director Spike Lee and actress  Jada Pinkett Smith have separately announced they would not be attending the glamourous award ceremony billed for February 28.

Having only white nominees in acting categories for two years in a row is seen as an aberration in recent Oscar history; the last time no black actors received nominations for two consecutive years was in 1997 and 1998.

Mr. Lee had announced on instagram and Ms. Pinkett Smith through a video, their intentions not to attend the awards because, for the second year in a row, none of the actors nominated are black.

“We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends,” Mr. Lee wrote.

“Should people of color refrain from participating all together?” Ms. Pinkett Smith asked on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday. “People can only treat us in the way in which we allow,” she added.

On Monday, she bared her mind on the poser, “We can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgment or respect of any group.” Her husband, Will Smith, was a best actor contender for his lead role in “Concussion” but received no nomination.

The boycott by Mr. Lee is especially disturbing for the Academy because, though he received an honorary Oscar in November; his latest film, “Chi-Raq,” earned no nominations. Saying he was tired of being asked for his opinion about all-white or majority-white Oscar races year after year, he also urged the news media to “ask all the white nominees and studio heads how they feel about another all-white ballot.”

The Academy’s president, Ms. Isaacs, has reacted to the charges in a statement saying she was “both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” in this year’s nominees and adding, “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”

The Academy’s diversity push in recent years had not brought change fast enough, Ms. Isaacs wrote, and she promised a review of its recruitment efforts.

The homogeneity of Hollywood has recently come under increased scrutiny. The American Civil Liberties Union called for a probe into potentially discriminatory hiring practices last May. And the Directors Guild of America released a study in December showing that 82 percent of movies from 2013 and 2014 were directed by white men.

Meanwhile, in London, the actor Idris Elba — who was shut out of Oscar contention despite being a heavy favorite for his performance in “Beasts of No Nation” —denounced the lack of diversity in British television to lawmakers there.