“Hollywood: A Town Divided When It Comes to Race”

“Hollywood is a city where truth is fluid.

Biographical movies that take liberties with the truth are utilizing “creative license.” Why not? Hollywood is the land of reinvention, where you can be whomever you want to be.

It’s all about make-believe.

For some observers, that includes the illusion of inclusion when it comes to diversity.

“2013 was the year of black film, with ’12 Years a Slave’ and all those acclaimed films that year, and in 2014, it went right back to business as usual,” said Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “(The slave rebellion film) ‘Birth of a Nation’ was the hot film at Sundance this year, but who knows what the rest of the (black) films in 2016 will be like?”

They’ll certainly be a topic of conversation. Thanks to #OscarsSoWhite, plenty of people are talking about diversity and the Academy Awards this year.

The hashtag debuted with the Oscar nominations in 2015 and reappeared in January after not a single person of color was nominated for any of the acting awards. Coupled with high-profile issues like the shootings of unarmed black men by police, it yet again provided fodder for discussions about race in Hollywood.

But the issue of the entertainment industry and race goes well beyond nominations. For that matter, it’s well beyond just black/white issues.  Lack of diversity, and the struggle for minorities to find equal opportunities and recognition, are very real national issues. Hollywood is just a microcosm.

Americans have been in love with the movies and television since each burst on the scene. Both have provided escapism and something for Americans to aspire to. But as the nation’s population has grown more diverse, the industry has been slow to catch up.

“The movie industry continues to ignore audiences of color, to its own detriment, given the box office success of movies that do feature diverse casts,” Roxane Gay wrote in a New York Times opinion piece headlined “The Oscars and Hollywood’s Race Problem.” “It continues to ignore the simple fact that people of color want to see their lives reflected in the movies they watch. Representation is not a lot to ask…”



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