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By Joy Jones

06/21/16

It’s been nearly six months since the #OscarsSoWhite revolt emerged on Twitter and other social media outlets. After the Oscar’s board of governors failed to nominate even one black actor or actress for the second time in two consecutive years, a few vocal members, especially with Black Twitter, called for immediate action. Unfortunately, it appears the only progress that’s been made is recognizing there is a problem.

The Academy is currently having re-elections for Board Members under a new, more democratic nomination process. If voted off the island members will be forced into an emeritus status, which would allow them to keep honorary membership, but lose voting privileges. Leaders of the Academy’s 17 branches are working to generate lists of members who will be released from voting status. Officials say if a member’s status is changed they will be notified.

However, Robin Swicord, a board member in the writers’ branch, is up for re-election and she says very few members are being affected – so few that it’s not likely to change the diversity of the prestigious group.

According to Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences insiders, opposition to diversity outreach toward people of color and women is still relatively high and the number of members being booted out are still very low. Nonetheless, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson is defending the board saying, “We’ve engaged our members in this process – along with other wide-ranging inclusion initiatives – to make sure the Academy remains as relevant in the future of our community as it has been for the past 88 years.” Older members on the board called accusations of racism appalling and offensive. Stuart Gordon, an older white male in the Academy, best known for his work in the horror genre agrees. Gordon says he was under impression membership would always be for life and it feels discontenting to be told they must now prove they’re still active and working. Others like him called The Academy weak for bowing to petitions for a 20% increase in female and colored members and nominees.

And while inside opposition to changes didn’t stop the new item voting policy, current members who do want to see change are being stopped in their tracks. The results of the first round of voting were recently released and so far only one critic of the Board, Bruce Feldman of the Academy’s public relations branch, finished among the top four contenders, advancing to the final round of voting. William Goldstein, who was among the most outspoken opponents, did not advance in the music branch. The music beach is considered to be one of the most diverse branches of the Academy.

Members in each of the 17 branches will now elect a member from among the finalists. Steven Spielberg is among the four candidates in the directors’ branch. Ed Begley Jr. is running for re-election in the acting branch against Laura Dern, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Edward James Olmos. The winners will be announced in mid-July.

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