The Academy Awards have always reflected the current state of the country. When the awards first began, the Academy was white, the nominees were white and Hollywood itself was white. As the film industry began to realize that there were other races out there, they tried to become more inclusive in their nominations and awards. However, it seems as though the Academy will only have bursts of inclusion followed by years of regression. While it was great to see a veteran like Viola Davis win an award and Mahershala Ali become the first Muslim to accept an Oscar in acting, this awards season left a bad taste in my mouth.

Did actors of color only win because of the backlash?

As many people remember, the Oscars so White controversy almost broke twitter when in two consecutive years, there were no actors of color nominated. Though the president of the Academy is a black woman, the diversity issue was not taken seriously until people on social media decided to take matters into their own hands. It seems as though Hollywood and the world at large only make a change when people begin to question them. Had the Oscars so White controversy never been up, I doubt that Viola Davis would be holding a gold statue right now. While stated often, it has to be noted that the only difference between white actors and those of color is opportunity.

It is hard to make stories about minorities or women when the big boys that produce and fund those films keep throwing their money to likeminded people. If stories that feature diverse perspectives and stories are not on the page, then the Academy will only continue to reward white actors, who often, get the best parts.

Diversity is not just black and white

Something that needs to also bed addressed with much more regularity is the inclusion of minorities other than just black people. While Dev Patel was nominated for his great performance in “Lion” it is ever rarer to see an Asian actor nominated for an Academy Award. There are not many great roles out there for Asians because Hollywood likes to whitewash many of those films.

From Katherine Hepburn moonlighting as an Asian woman to Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone’s film “Aloha,” Hollywood seems to have a major problem writing and casting for Asians. For Native Americans, things are even worse as it is hard to think of any nominees. Native American story are rarely ever told and when placed on the big screen, they are normally typecast as an offensive stereotype that was never a true reflection of their culture. While the Academy took a great step in showing that they can adapt to changing times, they should expand their searches and look for films that truly express every single part of the human experience.