The Oscars 2019: Representation Won

Chadwick Boseman quoted Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.” as the cast of Billion Dollar Black Panther accepted their Oscar. The Oscars in recent years have been called out for their lack of diversity. In 2016, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee boycotted the Oscars after all white nominations were announced during Black History Month.

“We all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured, yet you are young, gifted, and black… We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above.””

— Chadwick Boseman

There were many firsts for the Oscars this year. The director of ROMA, Alfonso Cuarón, won. This is the first time a Netflix movie was even nominated. Rami Malek, first-gen Egyptian American won Lead Actor for the million-dollar Bohemian Rhapsody. Many people were anticipating to see what awards the successful Black Panther movie would receive. The crowd erupted in applause when the cast won the Original Score award. Those who watched the Oscars were not only elated for the choice of casts who won, but were also proud of the individuals that received awards. For example, Regina King (best supporting actress in  If Beale Street Could Talk) and Spike Lee (best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKansman) received awards that were long overdue. As well as Black Panther’s Hannah Beachler, the first ever Black person to win the award for Best Production Design.

The overarching theme of Oscars 2019 was black and brown excellence. Viewers enjoyed that the Oscars were recognizing stories of Black and Brown people were shown in a positive light and encompassed concepts never seen before such as Afro-Futurism (Black Panther). People were angry when Best Picture nominee Green Book won, the reason for their anger being that the film was depicting a white savior complex. Celebrities during and after the award show shared their sentiments, for instance, Spike Lee reportedly walked towards the exit when Green Book was awarded. Afterwards, British journalists asked what he thought of the movie, in which he replied, “It wasn’t my cup of tea.” Amanda Seales retweeted her tweet from December and it was a link to a lengthy Instagram post responding to headlines which stated that the Green Book Family condemns the movies “Hurtful Lies.” Seales expressed her opinion by tweeting, “Wondering why [those who watched the movie] felt good watching another “If it wasn’t for that white person” film about a mediocre white racist repeatedly condescending to his black employer…” Criticisms began to erupt that the Oscars were presenting an illusion of representation of minorities stories. Nonetheless, many were ecstatic that Mahershala Ali won his second award for Best Supporting Actor.  

There is hope for actors of color, their films, and their stories will further gain recognition on platforms and academy shows.