The Atlantic

What the ‘Hollywood Jim Crow’ Looks Like Today

The supposedly color-blind language of economics has allowed the mainstream film industry to hide its racial biases, a new book argues.
Source: Universal Pictures

This year’s list of Academy Award acting nominees looks quite different than it did when April Reign first tweeted #OscarsSoWhite in 2015. Not only were all the performers white, but the movies vying for the top prize were also noticeably homogenous: Ava DuVernay’s Selma was the only Best Picture nominee with a black cast. Despite widespread criticism, the Academy put forth an all-white acting slate again in 2016. “This year’s list of Oscar nominees passes over popular, well-reviewed performances in the movies Creed and Straight Outta Compton,” The Los Angeles Times wrote at the time, also noting that Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson, and Will Smith were overlooked for nods. Smith responded to the lack of diversity by boycotting the ceremony. #OscarsSoWhite trended once again.

Jump to 2019, and the list of nominees is teeming, comparatively speaking, with the names of actors of color, including Regina King (), Yalitza Aparicio (), Mahershala Ali (), and Rami Malek (). Spike Lee his first Best Director nomination, for , and many of these films are to invite and people of color into its voting pool. The Oscars’ inclusion efforts, plus the box-office and critical successes of movies such as and , suggest that 2018 was a promising year for diversity in cinema.

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