Comedian Chris Rock has had perhaps the most outspoken voice in Hollywood when it comes to the industry's lack of diversity.
Last year he said that, because of their servile status in Hollywood, Mexicans are in a “slave state” in a Los Angeles where one out of two people is Latino.
We wouldn't have said that. But God bless him for doing it.
The thing is, Chris Rock is hosting the Academy Awards next month. For a second year, Oscar acting nominations have shut out minorities, sparking calls for a boycott of the ceremony and its telecast.
Rock so far has held fast, using the occasion as a teachable moment. He tweeted recently that the Oscars are “the white BET Awards.”
But now activists are getting serious about his participation.
The local chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network today is calling on Rock to drop out of the Feb. 28 event.
“The Los Angeles chapter of the National Actor Network (NAN), a leading civil rights organization, is calling for comedian Chris Rock to withdraw as host of the Oscars,” the chapter's Najee Ali said in a statement to L.A. Weekly. “Chris Rock hosting an all-white Oscars would be insulting and demeaning. It sends the message African-Americans are good enough to be presenters and entertain us but not worthy enough to be nominated for awards. Your job is to keep us laughing as whites only will receive Oscar awards tonight.“
Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and rapper Snoop Dogg have all endorsed the idea of a boycott. Rapper 50 Cent and actor-producer Tyrese Gibson have already asked Rock to pull out.
“We just said to ourselves it needs to be asked, at least officially,” Ali told us.
But Rock is just the beginning, he said.
The network is also formally calling on white actors to join the boycott. Ali singled out Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who have multiracial children, as well as Sylvester Stallone, whose Creed costar, African-American Michael B. Jordan, was shut out of the nominations for 2015 work.
“It shouldn't be just up to black actors to say something,” Ali said. “Where are the white liberals in the academy? We're calling on our white allies in the industry to come forward.”
Ali said the National Action Network is organizing a demonstration outside the awards ceremony Feb. 28.
In a statement today, Rev. Al Sharpton's office said “he will convene a series of meetings and conference calls immediately to launch a serious campaign for people to tune out the Oscars.”
“White Hollywood shouldn't support a racist system,” Ali said. “The best way to help make change is with a boycott and protest of the Oscars.”