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Danny DeVito; Don Cheadle; Mark Ruffalo

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival; Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival; FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

More stars are speaking out about the Academy Awards and its problem when it comes to having a diverse representation not only among nominees but also among members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who are responsible for submitting nominations.

As stars gather this week at the Sundance Film Festival, it seems as though the subject has become a major focal point. And there are people like Danny DeVito who aren’t holding back when it comes to their opinion on the subject.

“We are living in a country that discriminates and has certain racial tendencies which—racist tendencies—so sometimes, it’s manifested in things like this and it’s illuminated, but just generally speaking, we’re a racist—we’re a bunch of racists. It’s unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country. This is one example of the fact that even though some people have given great performances in movies, they weren’t even thought about,” DeVito stated while speaking on a panel at Sundance.

On the same panel with DeVito was his fellow actor Don Cheadle, who is promoting his new Miles Davis biopic at Sundance. Cheadle said that he feels the upcoming changes being made to the academy are good but not good enough.

“This is dealing with the symptom and not starting at the root cause of how do we even get to results like this,” Cheadle said.

And it’s that “symptom” that may keep best supporting actor nominee Mark Ruffalo from attending the award show. In an interview with the BBC, Ruffalo spoke about the systematic racism and white privilege that plagues the country.

“It isn’t the just the Academy Awards. The entire American system is rife with ... white-privilege racism that goes into our justice system,” Ruffalo stated.

When asked if he was still planning to attend the award show, Ruffalo said that he’s still trying to decide, and he spoke about Martin Luther King Jr.

“I woke up in the morning thinking, ‘What is the right way to do this?’ ... if you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy, what he was saying was that the good people who don’t act are much worse than ... the wrongdoers who are purposely not acting and don’t know the right way,” Ruffalo continued.

Ruffalo definitely made an interesting point. If white nominees stood in solidarity with their fellow nonwhite actors and proved to be real allies instead of giving lip service, maybe things would change faster. And if this were happening before, there probably wouldn’t be a need for this ongoing conversation.

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Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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