The Oscars needs to keep up with the times

Jennimai Nguyen
Opinions Editor

The Oscars are the cream of the crop, the epitome in Hollywood’s take on awards shows. The Academy is an elite group, and to receive their nomination for a top award is an honor bestowed upon a select few. For the at-home audience, the Oscars are a fabulous display of beautiful and talented people, parading the red carpet in designer gowns and smart suits, eventually cheering on their favorite celebrities to their victories through a TV screen. Overall, it’s a pleasant evening of entertainment.

However, in recent news, the Oscars have crept into a controversial corner, complete with its very own hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag has taken over social media, calling out the Academy for the second year in a row that not a single person of color is nominated for awards in the acting categories. With racial tensions running high throughout the country, the Oscars issue is just another atop an impressive list, following the likes of Ferguson, the Mizzou protests, and Abigail Fisher’s case against Affirmative Action.

What then, makes this recent controversy so important? Considering that this is not the first, but the second time the Academy has faced the same critique, what makes it stand out?

The very aspect of time and repetition is an aggravating factor to both the colored community and sympathizers. The Academy is comprised of supposedly well-qualified critics, charged with selecting the best of the best to receive the awards. It might be excused that colored actors had not been nominated in the past, but the year is 2016. Many expect the Academy to have progressed as time has, updating their standards to include all members of the acting community.

According to a Jan. 27 article in the National Review, “The imbroglio has led to threats and boycotts from some of the industry’s biggest names including Spike Lee, Michael Moore, and Will Smith and his wife, Jada.” Smith has also declared that Hollywood has become a “regressive” industry.

Many colored actors have taken personal offense to the nominations, and understandably so. It is impossible to deny that there have been incredible movies produced starring colored actors that have failed to be nominated. However, more troubling is the lack of impactful roles offered to colored actors. According to a Jan. 28 article for The Hollywood Reporter, the majority of colored roles are centered on typical box office movies, such as series like “Fast & Furious” and “Ride Along”. While these movies are box office billionaires, they do not offer roles that are award winning.

It is important when watching the Oscars this year to keep in mind the impact of the Academy’s decision. While the boycott may be more productive from the actors who are actually invited, viewers must remain conscious of their entertainment’s core values and consider what they are supporting as the Academy hosts the 88th Academy Awards.

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When police become criminals action must be taken

Ashley Wolfe

Editor-in-Chief

If those with the job of protecting citizens instead commit acts that harm them, would it be right to allow them to keep their job?

Would Americans keep the president in office if he/she allowed a foreign country to destroy our democracy?

In the Chicago police force, officers who admit their wrongdoings are able to receive a lesser punishment in place of being fired. According to a Jan. 19th article in the Chicago Sun-Times, this process– known as mediation– is currently under review by officials to determine if police officers who commit certain crimes should not be allowed to take part in it.

For example, last year two Chicago officers admitted to falsifying arrests. One officer received a 60 day suspension and the other 120 days.

Within four months, both were back on the job.

After an event like that, I’m not sure I would be comfortable having these two officers on the police force. What will stop them from committing such acts again? As protectors of our cities, police officers are looked to be role models and help bring justice for those who commit crimes. When they begin to commit crimes themselves, it truly brings to light the fact that they, too, are human beings like the rest of society.

For this reason, I support the investigation of the mediation process wholeheartedly. It is understandable that police officers make mistakes just like everyone else and should be shown the same level of consideration and mercy, but there are some offenses that require harsher consequences.

Falsifying arrests makes the top of the list.

If officers commit crimes that pose a threat to those whom they swore to protect, mediation is not an adequate consequence. With their job comes a higher level of expectation and, therefore, it should be accompanied by stricter consequences for those who fail to conduct themselves appropriately. I believe this will further prevent other officers from committing similar actions and improve the public’s view and opinion of the police force.

In no way do I intend to send the message that all police officers who commit crimes should be immediately and severely punished. I mean only to say that those who threaten the freedom and security of others should be dealt with accordingly. Petty crimes such as parking in handicapped spaces unnecessarily are not grounds for termination or three-month suspension. It is those like falsifying arrests and firing your weapon without just cause that require more than just a suspension to remedy.

Black Lives Matter

Ashley Wolfe
Editor-In-Chief

Black Lives Matter.

Doesn’t every life matter?

The recent excessive police shootings and brutality toward African-Americans has sparked much debate, protest and conflict within our society. All lives matter, of course, but it is currently the focus on those of African-Americans that is making headlines.

Which draws many to ask ‘What is it like to be African-American in times like these?’

I believe I speak for many when I say that it has never been an easy road being one of color. Although I have been immensely fortunate to be spared the cruelties that many of my race have begun to and continue to endure, I know enough to be more than aware of the challenges that come with being black.

MHS Security Guard Bobby Gray cited the American Law system as a major component in the continuing racism that is present in society, saying that the system “[is] set up in a way that [is not] equal for people of color.”

Recently, the Chicago Police Department has been under much scrutiny after the delayed release of a video in which a Caucasian police officer shoots and kills an African-American teen. In the video, the officer steps out of his car to approach the teen, who allegedly is armed with a knife, and fires at him. Even after the teen falls to the ground, posing no further threat to the officer and those accompanying him, the officer fires again. And again. A later autopsy concluded that the teen had been shot sixteen times.

Protesters have flooded Chicago since Thanksgiving Day weekend, responding to the release of this video. Beside the initial disgust at the amount of bullets fired unnecessarily, the unrest is furthered by the fact that this tragedy was shielded from the public for quite some time and the police officer given no consequences.

In no way is that justice.

As much as we would like to deny it, the results would have been much different if the teen were white and the police officer black. Actions would have been taken much sooner and the video released to the public in a more timely manner.

As an African-American, situations such as this only intensify the feeling that we have not completely forgotten our past. While the U.S. has come a significant way in their acceptance of those of color, there are still signs of racial tension and inequality present. Blacks struggle to get justice for those, such as teen Laquan McDonald, who are treated unjustly, consequently increasing hostility among blacks and their counterparts.

MHS alum and substitute teacher Jenelle Herry (‘09) “wholeheartedly” agrees that there is still an issue of racism present in society.

“The fact that we refuse as a nation to address it just makes it worse,” she said. “You can’t just ignore things and hope [it] gets better.”

With this in mind, I feel that the protesting in Chicago is entirely reasonable. The more we ‘look the other way’ or deny that there is a problem, the more we allow injustices to happen. Although I may not be a direct victim of these injustices, as a member of the African-American community, they do affect me. If injustice can happen in Chicago, it undeniably can occur anywhere. No state, city or town is exempt.

I believe that by bringing attention to instances where inequality is present and engaging in civil actions to bring about change, there can be a remedy. If blacks took a more active role in their community, it is likely that we could ensure that we are represented and our presence known. Attending community meetings to stay informed on local events and legal changes is one step in that direction. We can hold our local officials accountable and know where we stand if we make an effort to be knowledgeable of the things which affect us.

While it may be more likely than not that racism and acts of injustice will continue, I feel that through consistent action and involvement there is hope.