The 2017 Oscar Noms Are a Big Step Forward for Diversity -- but We Need More


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

For the past few years, the Oscars, let's just say, haven't been particularly motivated to hand out many nominations to people of color, especially in the acting categories. In fact, #OscarsSoWhite has been the trending topic synonymous with the iconic award show for the past two years. But this year it seems that Hollywood in general, from the films being produced to the nominations announced, has finally gotten the memo: We want diversity, and we want it now. And 2017 is not only a step in the right direction for the academy, but it's also one more step toward the world that I want my future kids to witness.

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This year marks a number of firsts, especially for African-American women, in terms of the nominations. For the first time (yes, EVER), three black women -- Viola Davis (Fences), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), and Naomie Harris (Moonlight) -- are nominated in a single category for best supporting actress at the same time. 

Viola Davis also claimed another first: the honor of being the first African-American woman to earn three Oscar nominations.

Now, as a black woman, I just need to take a minute to pause (insert praise hands emoji here) and for once bask in the fact that there are people who look like me represented in these nominations.

It's refreshing to finally see that after an awards season drought in which there was no representation, black actors and actresses are being celebrated for the poignant pieces of art that are just as diverse as their cast members.

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The stories of black struggles and triumphs are being told to the mainstream masses on a larger scale than ever. (Take a moment to check out the best documentary feature category!) That's something that I feel like I've been waiting to see since I was a little girl. 

And it's not only black actors and actresses getting accolades. Dev Patel scored the third acting nom for an actor of Indian decent -- and he's the thirteenth Asian actor to ever receive a nomination.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is in the running to win an award at all of the major award shows. Moonlight director Barry Jenkins and composer Mica Levi are also making strides in other categories that are vastly underrepresented by women and minorities. 

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It's great that these recognitions are happening. Though, in 2017, it's still unimaginable that it has taken us so long to get to this point of inclusion. And this is only the beginning of the conversation. 

While 2017 has brought some progress diversity-wise, the question that remains is whether we continue on this path moving forward.

There are plenty more stories to be told, and kids need to see that telling (as well as learning about) different viewpoints is okay -- and downright necessary. After all, the world that we live in is diverse. 

The age-old excuse that film studios don't see movies including various races getting attention because audiences aren't interested is false. As the academy has been told with the #OscarsSoWhite movement, audiences do want more.

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And February 26 will be a day that moms and their children can sit down and, for many, actually see themselves -- their culture and their history and their art -- in a positive light. Even if the kids don't get it, one day they'll realize how monumental this is. 

I really hope that at one point we won't have to always point out diversity -- that all races will be equally represented. But until we get to that point, this is one year to take note.

While I will celebrate this victory, I understand that we have so much farther to go. And on Oscar night, I'll be watching and praying that the winners are as varied as these nominations. No steps back. Please.

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