CAB’s Oscars party cancellation sparks conversation: A culture blur in an ‘anti -racist’ world.

By Kaitlin Lott

Staff Writer

CAB

Two weeks ago, members of UWF’s Campus Activity Board (CAB) released a statement saying that the Red Carpet Award Show Watch Party scheduled for Feb. 28 had been cancelled. It read: “As UWF students, we have chosen to stand in solidarity with other campus activity boards across the country who are canceling their viewing parties in support of the diversity debate happening nationwide. We encourage you to learn about this national conversation surrounding Hollywood, awarding processes and multiculturalism.”

This year, there were no people of color nominated for the top 20 awards at the Academy Awards. However, at the awards show itself, there was no shortage of racial jokes to release a heavy load of the tension. Oscar host, comedian Chris Rock, made a point to mention how the Oscars was a white awards show, and if the Academy had voted on this year’s host, then Neil Patrick Harris would probably be on stage instead of him.

Not only did Rock acknowledge and expound upon the fact that the Oscars had a massive white-out, but he also spared no feelings for those who chose to protest it. He made sure to express that the Oscars have had years without black nominees, implying that this is not anything new; but what is new is black people being empowered to protest the lack of nominees. Comically suggesting that the Oscars should create black categories to avoid protest, he touched on perhaps why this is such an issue as a nation. Rock compared the fact that there are women’s and men’s categories, explaining how Robert DeNiro does not worry about competing with Meryl Streep.

Personally I thought this was a good touch to lighten the mood. Racial tension is now an issue in all aspects of American life. Now, it seems, whether being watched too closely at the clothing store, having to validate who you are to the police, or having to fight to be noticed by a board of predominately older white members of the Academy, being a minority is taking its toll.

However, I’m not sold on the idea that CAB cancelling the event benefited our campus.

There were a large number of educational lessons and values that could have been learned by watching the Oscars; cancelling was perhaps the wrong move. Rock brought culture, wit and humor, which was a valiant effort in educating not only the Academy on racial issues but the nation as a whole. There is a large call for learning about other cultures in America, not only black ones. When the phrase “lack of diversity” comes into conversation, a majority of the population references those individuals as African-Americans, but in reality, the Oscars did not acknowledge anyone of color from Indian to Hispanic.

As an African-American attending a predominately Caucasian university, it is clear that there is a divide in the understanding about the opportunities given to the majority vs. minority members, but I think there has been epiphany by minority groups that has led to protesting award shows like the Oscars. We are now engulfed in a world that is more pro-change attitude than ever before. Being black, it is hard to see rules change and laws pass, while still having to fight for the rights we were granted years ago.

Women’s rights have progressed, gay rights have been pushed through Congress, but there is a magnitude of issues that still trail behind us. Minorities are simply not given the same opportunities. Muslim men and women are looked at with a side-eye on an everyday basis; Hispanic men and women are constantly being criticized for “jumping the border” or not having a green card; and African-Americans have been stripped of their own heritage, being looked down upon for centuries. Within our own county, Sheriff David Morgan released a statement last year stating that “We have unfortunately in the black community embraced a thug culture, one that aggrandizes again foul language, shooting cops, abusing women…,” because as many people perceive, only black people can have these attributes. The Oscars not having any minority nominees is another way of agreeing with the words of Sheriff Morgan and others who do not see the deeper lining in this award show. See Sheriff Morgan’s statement here.

Many of us see equality but are blind to the prejudices that sneak up on us every day. CAB cancelling the watch party may have not been the answer to solving the problem of racism or getting minority nominees for next year’s Oscars, but what CAB did accomplish was initiating the conversation of why it is so important that we discuss the issues of diversity and cultural understanding.