Jada Pinkett Smith to boycott Oscars: ‘Begging for acknowledgement ... diminishes dignity’
Calmly and coolly on Monday, Jada Pinkett Smith took the opportunity on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to deliver a video message on Facebook explaining her decision to boycott the Academy Awards, which for the second year in a row have only white performers nominated in the four actor and actress categories.
"I ask the question," she said. "Have we now come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgment or respect of any group; that maybe it's time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in a way that we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power? I'm simply asking the question."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, she said, has the right to acknowledge whomever it chooses and to invite whomever it chooses. However, she added: "Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called 'mainstream' ones. I don't know."
"Here's what I do know. Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity, and diminishes power, and we are a dignified people, and we are powerful, and let's not forget it."
Pinkett Smith's husband, "Concussion" star Will Smith — previously nominated for Oscars for his work in "Ali" and "The Pursuit of Happyness" — was not among the best actor nominees announced Thursday, despite a Golden Globes nomination in an equivalent category. On Saturday on Facebook, the actress seemed to be considering a boycott.
"At the Oscars ... people of color are always welcomed to give out awards ... even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together? People can only treat us in the way in which we allow," she wrote. "With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment, J."
In the video Monday, she made it clear that she didn't have a date with Oscar.
"Hey Chris," Pinkett Smith said, addressing 2016 show host Chris Rock, "I won't be at the Academy Awards, and I won't be watching. But I can't think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend."
In 2015, 322 new members were invited into the academy in what organization President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has described as an attempt to diversify the organization's membership.
"This organization is very much committed to a normalization of our membership to represent both the industry and the country as a whole," Boone Isaacs told the Los Angeles Times last June when the new class was announced. "For a little bit here we had a quota system, a limit of membership. We thought we were missing out on talented folks that come from all different areas. We lifted that and we have seen an increase in gender, color, age, nationality, all goals we set for ourselves, to be more representative of our audience."
Rock, for his part, has already acknowledged the whiteness of this year's acting nominees. "#Oscars," he said on Twitter, posting a promo to the show. "The White BET Awards."
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