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Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith Call for Oscar Boycott

UPDATED: Despite receiving an honorary Oscar at last year’s Governor’s Awards, Spike Lee posted on Instagram on Martin Luther King’s birthday Monday, saying he and his wife would not be attending the Oscar ceremony.

Lee’s statement said, “We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!!”

It continues, “Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right.”

He then lays out what he sees as the reason for the problem: “As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.”

View this post on Instagram

#OscarsSoWhite… Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

At November’s Governor’s Awards, he told Hollywood,  “You better get smart” about making films that represent the population. His latest film “Chi-Raq” has not figured in the awards season conversation.

With a black Academy president, Oscar host and Oscar producer in Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Chris Rock and Reginald Hudlin, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems to be pushing for greater diversity. But as Lee points out, the organization itself does not determine which films get made.

On Saturday, Jada Pinkett Smith got the ball rolling when she tweeted, “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?”

Gil Robertson, president of the African-American Film Critics Association, responded to their calls for a boycott on Sunday with the following statement: “I think it would be a mistake to boycott anything. The black community needs to understand that receiving an Oscar nomination is a big deal for anyone, regardless of race. Under Cheryl Boone Isaac’s leadership, the Academy is moving closer to getting in step with the real world. Change takes time.”

Later on Monday, Isaacs tweeted a statement about the controversy, saying that she is “heartbroken and frustrated” about the lack of inclusion in the Oscar nominations. On Tuesday, Smith tweeted that she appreciated the apology — however, it does still seem as though the boycott is still on.

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