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Nominees for the Academy Awards were criticized for not being diverse.

Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Penn students weigh in on the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite controversy. 

For the second year in a row the top four Academy Awards nominees have been white actors and actresses, causing many to question why non-whites in film lack recognition, even when films with minority leads such as Creed and Concussion were incredibly successful in the box office.

Following the announcement of the 2016 nominees, African-American film heavy-weights Jada Pinkett-Smith, Will Smith and Spike Lee have called for an Oscars boycott. 

Lee began the hashtag #OscarSoWhite on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's birthday following the announcement. 

The same day Pinkett-Smith also tweeted her support for an Oscars boycott. 

"Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful," she said. "So let's let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let's do us, differently." 

College sophomore Sydney Morris stands by Lee and Pinkett-Smith's call for an Oscars boycott. 

"I think what Jada Pinkett-Smith said was pretty accurate." Morris said, "If you feel like what they are doing is unfair, start your own thing instead. It doesn't make sense to seek validation from people who will never give it to you." 

However, not all Penn students see the Oscars boycott as an effective means of changing the system. 

"I think it is an issue that black actresses and actors are under-represented and under-appreciated for their contributions to the movie industry," said College junior Chike Nweazeapu, however he added, "I don’t see black actresses and actors boycotting the event as effective for change, because the event is so dominated by white actors, media, judges and audience that the event may continue on." 

Nweazeapu did admit that while it might not lead to a new awards system it was a legitimate way of grabbing attention for the issue. 

"However, I do think it is a sensible way to show their discontent with the issue," he said. 

For both Nwaezeapu and Morris, the lack of diversity in the nominations is larger than just the Oscars. 

"I think the issue is much bigger than the Oscars," Morris said. 

"[The nominations] reveal that their is still prejudice towards African Americans, as well as an unchanging white hegemony," Nweazeapu said.

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