Over the last few days I’ve been reading so many differing views about the Oscars getting stuck in the midst of a racism row. Makes one think that in a developed nation with laws to protect minorities and especially in a place like the UK why is everyone still talking ‘colour’. So if you try to cut through all the chap these are some of the key points raised by people.
1. Lack of opportunities for blacks and other minorities within the film and theatre industry.
2. Low level of interest cultivation amongst minority kids.
3. Already a large existence of white folk in the industry who have a bias towards other white folk. (Seriously?)
4. Stereotypes formed. Superman and spiderman has always been white. Stock brokers are always white. Basketball players are always black.
5. Lastly, lack of black nominations for the Oscars.
When you actually read each of these points in the way I have summarised above, your first reaction is possibly either ‘Hell yeah!’ or ‘What the f@*&. Is this a joke?’ Having an Indian background I am quite familiar with the race debate. Back home in India, every time we come in second or miss out, we play the racism card. Although not everyone would agree with this theory but I think Indians are the most racist people of all. And we don’t even have to look at people from another country to look down upon. The northerners don’t want anything to do with the southerners and several political groups profess superiority of blood as compared to others. This is all apart from religious biases.
Anyway I digress a bit. Looking at the 5 points around Oscars above, I feel sorry to see all this being aimed at the film and theatre industry. Here is my perspective. At least in the UK, it’s a numbers game. Given everyone has equal opportunity, the coloured people in the industry should have the same proportion as the coloured population of the country. So what are these numbers? The UK has a population of 65 million and 3% of this population is black. So now the question is are 3% of all actors in the UK black? I think so. Idris Alba, David Oyelowo, Chiwetelu Ejiofor are just the tip of the iceberg. Amongst the women, Thandie Newton, Naomi Harris and Sophie Okinedo are to name a few you may have heard of. But there are many more.
So now the question raised in point number 5 remains. If so many black actors and actresses are there, why do they never win Oscars. Well for that you need to look at the facts again. How many British actors and actresses have actually won Oscars. And have 3% of these been black?