The Root Gathered an All-Black Panel to Discuss #OscarsSoWhite

What do black filmmakers, actors, casting directors and producers have to say about the lack of diversity in rewarding those in the arts?

Morgan Freeman poses with his award for best supporting actor for Million Dollar Baby, and Jamie Foxx poses with his award for best actor for Ray, at the 77th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on Feb. 27, 2005, in Hollywood, Calif.
Morgan Freeman poses with his award for best supporting actor for Million Dollar Baby, and Jamie Foxx poses with his award for best actor for Ray, at the 77th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on Feb. 27, 2005, in Hollywood, Calif. Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

While we all know that the Oscars have been so white since forever, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has only lived a couple of years on social media. This year the social media phenomenon has taken wings and, on its flight, has gathered up outrage and inspired everyone, from Twitter users to A-list celebrities, to speak out.

But we wanted to hear from us. So The Root gathered a panel of stellar black people—all of them in the entertainment industry—to discuss on Periscope why we’re excluded from one of the biggest award ceremonies in Hollywood. Cameron Ross, a producer and writer; YaZarah St. James, a singer-songwriter for Lenny Kravitz; Lande Yoosuf, a casting director; Okema T. Moore, an actress and writer; and Nneka Onuorah, a filmmaker, all gathered together to discuss #OscarsSoWhite, Jada Pinkett Smith’s reaction and call to action, Spike Lee’s boycott, and the difficulty of making a splash in Hollywood when you’re black.

The result was a dynamic conversation that left the audience inspired, informed with insider information on getting to the Oscars and ready to take action.

Check out some of the best quotes from the Periscope:

* “The acknowledgment of who and what we are in this industry, and the fact that we’ve consistently and literally built this industry on our blood, sweat and talent, then there’s a need for an #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. We’re not the ones in the forefront.” —Okema T. Moore

* “We had to create our own table so we could take a seat at it.” —YaZarah St. James

* “Our standards of achievement need to be reassessed. We constantly look through the white lens to validate our existence. We need to stop doing that. We need to celebrate those platforms that exist that celebrate black folks.” —Lande Yoosuf

* “A lot of this issue is not just based upon white people not identifying with us; it also has to do with us coming together to make the change.” —Nneka Onuorah

* “I am doing my own thing. I am not waiting on anyone to give me the green light anymore. It’s important to step out on faith and do something on my own.” —Cameron Ross

Take a look at the full Periscope broadcast below. It’s a conversation worth tuning in to:

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