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92nd Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

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Black History Month was celebrated at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, but much like the month itself, it was way too brief. Sort of like the list of Black people winning Oscars, especially in relation to white folks. 

And while South Korean Bong Joon-ho and his “Parasite” movie cleaned up at the Academy Awards Sunday night, please don’t be fooled: much of the rest of the ceremony fell right in line with the years-old-but-still-applicable hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite.

That fact was likely not lost on Color of Change, the nonprofit civil rights group that enlisted #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign to live-tweet the Oscars with some timely statistics about Black people winning Academy Awards through the decades that the awards show has been around. 

That’s not to say that Sunday night was bereft of Blackness. Quite the contrary, Black folks were well represented at the Oscars — just not when it came to winning the awards.

The lone exception to that rule on Sunday night was “Hair Love,” which won Best Animated Short Film for a Black father who gains a better understanding of how to do his daughter’s hair and encourages her to embrace her natural coils. 

And Janelle Monáe — who starred in “Harriet,” a movie for which Cynthia Erivo did not win Best Actress — made several statements with her singing as well as her voice of activism. 

At one point she said, “It’s time to come alive because the Oscars is so white.” 

Later she said, “Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room.” We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films. And I’m so proud to stand here as a black queer artist telling stories. Happy Black History Month!” 

Chris Rock also provided some necessary cultural levity when it came to the harsh realization that Black representation at the Oscars was still lacking despite the awards show being in its 92nd year.

“American Factory,” which won for Best Documentary Feature, was a product of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher ground production company, which was noteworthy as well.

But aside from those few and fleeting moments, Academy Awards viewers were left to accept the grim reality that there was hardly any Black representation at the Oscars, again.

Enter April Reign and Color of Change, which offered nuanced perspective by tweeting nothing but historical facts throughout the awards ceremony to bring attention to the lack of Black talent recognized and Black stories told in Hollywood on a consistent basis.

With it being increasingly obvious that Hollywood is ignoring Black stories, other awards shows like the Urban One Honors have stepped in to decidedly fill that void in order to inject some semblance of diversity into the conversation surrounding entertainment awards shows.


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