BY THE NUMBERS: It’s Not Black People The Oscars Are Biased Against

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Blake Neff Reporter
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February’s upcoming Academy Awards show has been mired in controversy due to claims that the list of nominees in top categories has been “white washed,” reflecting insidious racial bias in Hollywood. Much of the outrage has emanated from black members of the film world, and discussion has revolved around a perceived lack of black nominees.

A new infographic from The Economist shows that it’s actually Asians and Hispanics, not blacks, who should be annoyed with the Academy.

Currently, blacks are about 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Economist’s chart shows, blacks have received just slightly fewer top roles and Oscar nominations as a proportion of population. When it comes to actually winning acting Oscars, blacks have in fact been over-represented since the year 2000.

In reality, the group that has the biggest bone to pick with the Academy is likely Asians. Despite being about six percent of the U.S. population, with comparable representation in the Screen Actors Guild, Asians have received just one percent of acting nominations since 2000, and haven’t won a single award.

Hispanics are similarly underrepresented. Despite now outnumbering blacks in the U.S. and representing 16 percent of the population, they receive even fewer film roles than Asians and have just a handful of Oscar nominations and wins.

Another revelation of The Economist’s chart is that, to the extent the Oscars favor white people, it mostly just reflects the demographics of film roles. Non-white actors garner about 15 percent of top film roles, get 15 percent of Oscar nominations, and win 17 percent of Oscars.

[dcquiz] But the real issue, The Economist suggests, isn’t a lack of non-white actors. It’s a lack of non-white directors who would have the power to create more racially diverse films.

“Blacks really are much more under-represented in the director’s chair, where they account for 6% of directors of [top films,]” it says. “Black women are nearly nonexistent there … These are the numbers that critics of Hollywood should be most concerned about, along with the dearth of top roles for Hispanic and Asian actors. Best Actor nominations and wins—in which black actors have done decently, 2015 and 2016 excepted—seem to be the wrong target.”

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