Thursday, January 21, 2016

Disability and Diversity: #OscarsSoWhite and Idris Elba

So the Oscars only nominated white actors for all the top awards. This isn't a new problem. In response, the Academy's president has released a statement, reading in part [my emphasis]:
We need to do more, and better and more quickly.
This isn't unprecedented for the Academy. In the '60s and '70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.
I want you to notice that disability isn't even a part of the aspirational diversity of the Oscars, let
Description: Elba smiling and holding a
small white puppy.
There are shoes in the background?
alone celebrating real disability.  Last year, Eddie Redmayne was awarded Best Actor for playing Stephen Hawking, a disabled person, even though he's fully able bodied. Playing crip is a great way to get attention, but is not the same as diversity.

There's hope. Idris Elba spoke to Parliament about diversity and consistently mentioned disability. Here's the full transcript, and the key quote:
Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin colour.

- it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and - most important of all, as far as I’m concerned – diversity of thought.

Because if you have genuine diversity of thought among people making TV & film, then you won’t accidentally shut out any of the groups I just mentioned.
Please send that message to the Academy, should they should ever bother to nominate you (also stop wasting your time as Heimdall, but that's a separate conversation).

Update note: I'm not saying ALL conversations about diversity need to include ALL aspects of diversity. There are lots of moments to discuss just race, or just sexuality, or just ethnicity, or just disability, or anything! But if you are going to release a big aspirational list and you leave out disability, it's very telling.

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