Academy leads from behind

Kandice Johnson

Variety, the film industry’s leading publication said it all on their latest cover: “Shame on us.”

With the latest news zooming in on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s lack of diversity, the Academy is finally taking action to improve their voting system.

And honestly, it’s about time.

This is the first change to the voting system since the Academy was first inaugurated in May of 1929.

For the past 87 years only 45 African-Americans, 60 Latinos and three actors of Asian descent have been nominated.

The news focuses primarily on the lack of African-American nominees, but it’s much more than a black vs. white issue.

Many actors of different races have questioned the lack of minority nominations in the past years.

While members of the Academy insist the nominee outcomes are not due to racism, history and statistical data aren’t really supporting their claim.

Whether racism is the cause or not for the lack of diversity, one thing is for sure: the change was needed.

On the Oscar’s website, board members of the organization posted last week their goal is to double the number of diverse members by 2020.

Their plan is to remove voting rights from members who haven’t been active in the industry in the last 10 years and replace them with “members who represent greater diversity.”

In addition to replacing members, they will add three non-governor seats to the Board’s Membership and Administration Committee.

While Academy President Cheryl Boone Issacs claims that they’re going to take the lead on diversity and “not wait for the industry to catch up,” her remark puzzles me.

How can they say they’re in the lead of taking on diversity when the movie industry is challenging diversity in numerous ways lately?

Quvenzhané Wallis, the African-American leading actress in the movie Annie, was an example of diversity taking place.

Even Jamie Fox’s role in Django presented an unusual twist of how history unfolded during the 1850s.

I don’t think the Academy is taking the lead on anything. They’re following.

While some movie critics claim the new rules “lowers standards,” I beg to differ.

The new changes simply remove the voting rights of members who had short careers, left the industry or just don’t support different diverse films and replaces them with innovative, current and hardworking film workers.

This way noteworthy actors – like Will Smith for example- have a better chance of earning an Oscar when they take on an inspiring movie role.

The Academy needs to face the fact that whether or not the all-white nominations were intended to be a racial thing, their outdated system isn’t supporting the changes in the movie industry and –more importantly- in the world.

Religion can be spoken about freely, yet we tread softly when publically mentioning it.

But, the hardest idea to grasp is that having the right to spread religious awareness is certainly not the same as pushing beliefs on others.

While people reserve the right to practice religious freedom and to speak without restraint about any faith they choose, forcing others to listen isn’t freedom of speech; it’s harassment.

There are over 127 major religions and seven billion people on earth with seven billion different views of God. Some love Him, some fear Him, some question His existence and some are still searching for Him.

Some will decide that God plays no role in the trials and tribulations of life, while others will find faith the moment they see their newborn child take the first breath of being.

Whether we discover where we spiritually belong in a pew on Sunday morning or on a lonely drive with no destination, the journey to finding or forgetting God is what determines our views. We can’t be told what and who to believe in, or to even believe in anything at all.

What we learn, who we meet and the challenges we face are what we remember when we stand before Him, not the church members that knock on our front doors, or the people that stand in the quad condemning us all to hell.

And if the church goer at your front door changes your perspective, let them. Be baptized in one church, change your mind, and be baptized in another. Let what you learned in biology class make you question evolution and the powers above.

Learning from life experiences and questioning God’s ways isn’t sin; it’s human. It’s human to change emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when physical surroundings change. It’s human to simply be curious and indecisive.

Faith only exists because there are people that believe strongly enough in it to make it a reality and a way of life. Without doubters and differences, the strength of religion would never have anything to be measured against.

Because of that, religion without true belief is weak.

Never practice out of habit, don’t follow just because your parents or friends do, and don’t ever think one religion is superior to another. In a time that seems to have the explanation for everything in a test tube or on a database, people believing in any God at all is a miracle in itself.