Several dozen protesters gathered in front of the ABC studios on the Upper West Side Sunday, angry at the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees.
The protest was part of a national movement led by the National Action Network, with other protests held in Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit and other cities.
“I’m tired of the whitewashing in Hollywood, I’m tired of seeing African and Egyptian Gods being portrayed by Swedish or European Actors,” said Khadija Amon-Ra, a 45-year-old makeup artist from Chelsea who was among the protesters. “We all should be represented in film and be rewarded for what we do,” she added.
Many in crowd repeatedly shouted the Black Lives Matter chant, ‘no justice no peace,’ and ‘black out the Oscars,’ in reference to the boycott that filmmaker Spike Lee, the Rev. Al Sharpton and several other Hollywood actors have called for.
Some demonstrators carried placards that highlighted the lack of diverse Oscar winners, and one placard took aim at Chris Rock.
“Chris Rock does not speak for us, no one of color was represented tonight,” said Ashley Sharpton, 28, the daughter of Al Sharpton, to the crowd of protesters. “Yes, some black people have been awarded but there is a gap, and that’s what we’re here about today,” she later told amNewYork.
One onlooker, Malinda Dunn, a 63-year-old usher from the Upper West Side, said that she wouldn’t watch the Oscars because of the lack of diversity among the nominees. “We live in a country that is very diverse and the percentage of white in media is not reflective of our country, we need to get it right,” Dunn said.
Meanwhile in Harlem, a few Oscar boycotters held a party on Sunday afternoon at The Shrine reggae club, in celebration of black actors and filmmakers. Party goers voted for which major films and actors they thought deserved the Oscar that year, giving out their own set of awards fashioned after the Egyptian Goddess, Ptah.
“The academy was the impetus of the event but it’s more about having our own awards and choosing for ourselves which artists to recognize,” said Christine Scott, one of the event organizers.