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Despite assurances by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of its plans to put in place an ambitious affirmative action plan, a Los Angeles chapter of Rev Al Sharpton's National Action Network said they're moving forward with plans to boycott this year's Oscars.
While the group said they're pleased with the recent efforts of Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who pledged plans to double the organization's membership of women and minorities by 2020, they reminded everyone that so far they're just plans. "Tune out of boycott must go into effect," said civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson. The Academy has failed to nominate any actors of colour for the second year in a row.
Ali Najee, one of the group's organisers, said: "Our attitude is that if African-Americans are not going to be part of the telecast, being nominated or getting an award, than why should African-Americans watch and support a ceremony that seems to lack diversity and inclusion of African-Americans and other minorities."
"We appreciate what the Academy has done so far, but understand one thing, it is still just a promise to make change. We still haven't seen an implementation to change right now. That was the call, without that implementation of change, with a zero scorecard of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, receiving any award consideration at the Academy there is no reason to tune in, but there is every reason for millions of people to tune out boycott."
The group also said that they will be holding a large protest during the event. Actor Will Smith and director Spike Lee were among those who announced plans to shun the Oscars. There has also been an ongoing debate on whether host Chris Rock should step down.
"We've asked Chris Rock to boycott the Oscars like everyone else," said Najee. "Chris Rock needs to do what his conscious tells him to do. I just now for me personally that if I was an African-American host that I would feel insulted and demeaned that I'm good enough to host the Oscars but the only person good enough to get an Oscar that night are white actors, The black actors have to entertain, make you laugh and present you the Oscar."
The roster of the 6,000 or so academy members has never been publicly disclosed, though a 2012 Los Angeles Times study found that its members were nearly 94% white and 77% male. The 88th annual Academy Awards takes place on 28 February.