I love the Oscars. I watch with admiration as the celebrities, dressed in magnificent gowns and tuxedos, walk down the red carpet with their heads held high. This year, however, instead of gaping at the stars with golden glitter on their dresses and primly fashioned neckties, I focused my attention on the fact that, for the second year in a row, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate a person of color for best actor or actress.
This lack of diversity in the pool of nominees shows that Hollywood provides limited opportunities for minorities in the industry. Only 16.7 percent of the actors and actresses who received lead roles in 2013 were people of color, according to the 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report by University of California, Los Angeles. This statistic is unfortunately not surprising. If Hollywood produced more movies that provided minorities with opportunities to take on lead roles, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would have to nominate people of color for its awards.
The film industry’s visible racial bias is indicative of a larger problem in American society. Minority groups do not receive the same opportunities as white people in the United States. Though people commonly view America as the land of opportunity, minorities are consistently discriminated against because of their race. Racial discrimination has been, and remains, ingrained in the American psyche. While Andover strives to embrace students of all races, bias against students of color also exists on this campus. According to The Phillipian’s 2015 “State of the Academy,” 75 percent of African-American students have felt discriminated against because of their race while only 20 percent of white students felt that they experienced prejudice due to their race at Andover. The majority of Andover’s students are white, with this demographic comprising 55 percent of the student population, according to the 2015 “State of the Academy.”
For many white students, it may be difficult to understand the experiences of others, and Andover students cannot change the school’s lack of diversity. Nonetheless, it is on all of us to create a community that recognizes that students of color feel that they are discriminated against on this campus. It is not enough to solely detect racial discrimination on the Academy Award nomination list. As a community, we must be cognizant that members of our community identify racial discrimination as an aspect of their everyday lives. The issue of racial discrimination transcends the red carpet and confronts us here on Andover’s paths.