David Oyelowo, a British-Nigerian actor, has recounted how the Academy award denied ‘Selma’, a 2014 movie, nominations because its cast protested death of Eric Garner.
Garner, an African-American man, died on July 17, 2014 in New York after a police officer administered a chokehold on him during an arrest.
Cell phone footage, which went viral at that time, showed Garner saying “I can’t breathe” over and over again before his death.
His demise had sparked global outrage with many alleging ill-treatment of blacks by their white counterparts.
To show solidarity for his death, Oyelowo and other cast on the movie had worn a shirt with “I can’t breathe” boldly written on it to the premiere of ‘Selma’ in December 2014.
But in an interview with Screen Daily, the actor cum producer said the protest was the reason the movie only got two Oscar nominations in 2015.
“I remember at the premiere of ‘Selma’ us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring S-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that,” he told the media outlet.
“It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite. They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”
Citing the recent death of George Floyd, a black American, the movie star said it was unfortunate that blacks have become victims of racism by whites for several years without anything being done to contain the trend.
He also took his social media page to share an emotional video where he narrated how his father and brother, who is a health worker, had faced racism of various forms.
“We blacks are no longer save…,” he said in the video, breaking down in tears intermittently.
The post was accompanied with the caption: “Every black person has racism as a wound. Here are a handful of mine and how it affects three generations of black men in my family. Let’s create a better future together…Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for another 44 seconds longer than that. Think about that.”
The Academy award, however, took to its social media page to react to Oyelowo’s claim, insisting it’s committed to progress.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) June 5, 2020
The actor’s revelation further stretches the controversies over alleged discrimination against blacks by Oscars in its selections.
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