Wednesday watch: the performances that win awards for black actors

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in "12 Years a Slave"

While the Oscars have come and gone, the conversation about the lack of recognition for actors of color should and will continue far into the future. There is clearly a problem with recognizing strong performances by people of color. But as the New York Times points out in this video, there is also a problem with the kinds of roles the academy chooses to heap praise on.

For example, “in the history of the Oscars, 10 black women have been nominated for best actress, and nine of them played characters who are homeless or might soon become so.” Dr. Miriam Petty sadly sums up why this often happens: “If you had a film about an ordinary black guy — well, that might mean that he knows other black people. Those black people might need to be in the movie, too. And then it’s a black film.”

Click to watch the video.

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Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

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