Race Matters: On the 2014 Oscar Nominations

There used to be a popular TV show Eight is Enough. The premise was as the title suggested—a family with eight kids and no more were needed because they were good. In today’s society, the maxim could be one is more than enough when it comes to African Americans in entertainment.

The Oscars were recently announced and 12 Years a Slave received 9 nominations. Among them were for Best Film, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o. Notably, Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, were not recognized for their performances in Fruitvale Station. The entire film and its actors were snubbed as was the case with The Butler. Idris Elba also failed to have his name mentioned during the Jan. 16 announcements for his starring role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  It’s as if quotas were filled and all others were deemed moot.

It’s not as if I want the Oscars to be all about the black experience in film during the year, but I would like to see more of us represented at the ceremony. Oftentimes, the rebuttal is that we have the BET Awards and the NAACP to help our stars decorate their mantles but why should we still be limiting ourselves in 2014? We shouldn’t still be cancelling each other out. We can be great at the same time.

A matchup between Forest Whitaker, Ejiofor and Elba for Best Actor would have been welcome. Alas, many would have said that would just be one too many of us in a category.

Stephanie Guerilus is an award winning multi-media journalist and published autho with an interest in entertainment, politics and cultural issues.

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