Why Don Cheadle is not boycotting the Oscars but Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith are

Jada Pinkett Smith, Don Cheadle, Janet Hubert
Jada Pinkett Smith, Don Cheadle, Janet Hubert

The fallout from Oscar’s all-white acting nominees continue — with Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to announce they plan to boycott the awards ceremony.

“The Academy has the right to acknowledge whoever they choose, to invite whoever they choose. ... It’s our responsibility now to make the change,” Pinkett Smith says in her video. “Maybe it is time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge in ways that we see fit.”

From Lee’s Instagram: “My wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee and I will not be attending the Oscar ceremony this coming February. We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs and The Academy. But, how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?”


#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

#Oscarssowhite, #BoycottTheOscars and #OscarsBoycott are all Twitter hashtags.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement, saying she is “heartbroken and frustrated by the lack of inclusion.”

But what exactly is the problem? And is a boycott going to effectively address the issue?

KC’s Don Cheadle got into a fairly civilized discussion on Twitter about it. He points out how the Oscars are just part of Hollywood’s money machine. He considers the awards a “silly contest.”

Then there’s Janet Hubert, who played Will Smith’s Aunt Vivian on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” In response to Pinkett Smith’s video, she also invoked MLK Day and called out Pinkett Smith’s argument for not being deep enough.

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Hubert also seemed to still harbor resentment toward Pinkett Smith for something that happened during “Fresh Prince.” Evidently, Hubert said the show’s actors asked Will Smith to negotiate higher salaries for the crew (“like they did on ‘Friends,’ like white shows do”) and she recalls Pinkett Smith telling them: “My deal is my deal and y’all’s deal is y’all’s deal.”

The problem, Hubert says, is that the Smiths are “part of the system.”

“You have a huge production company ... so you are a part of Hollywood. You are a part of the system that is unfair to other actors. So get real.”

That drives home an issue far deeper than not enough black Oscar nominees, and one that illuminates the problem with Pinkett Smith asking black Hollywood to “pull back our resources.”

Note this King quote that gets at the heart of the “Fresh Prince” story Hubert told: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And it’s probably why Cheadle is not boycotting the show, and instead wants the world to watch host Chris Rock take on Hollywood.

Rock has already started.

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