New York – Hollywood’s diversity crisis dominated the 88th Academy Awards and host Chris Rock took the bull by the horns and did not let go all night long.
He made the elephant in the room front and center in his remarks from the start.
"I counted at least 15 black people in that montage!" he said of the opening film clips, referring to the fact that every acting nominee was white for the second year in a row.
While many praised Rock for pleading for more opportunities for black actors, Latino leaders are calling foul that for the host failing to bring up other minorities that were also not nominated in this year’s acting categories.
“Is it me, or have we taken 10 steps backwards when it comes to Latinos and Hollywood? Now we are invisible in thought and presence,” tweeted Felix Sanchez, co-founder and CEO of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, during the show.
He told Fox News Latino on Monday that it was like a “slap to the face” that the plight of Latino and other minority actors was dismissed by the Academy on its biggest night.
“It was so offensive that everyone falls in line when they keep it with the black-white paradigm,” he said, adding that there were only a handful of moments in the three-plus hour telecast in which Latinos were explicitly part of it and only three were part of the script.
The other moments were when Mexican filmmakers Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Emmanuel Lubezki made history with consecutive wins in directing and cinematography, and when Chile won its first-ever Oscar.
“It restated that Hollywood has closed the door on the conversation of including us in their diversity,” Sanchez said. “I was fully expecting (Rock) of talking about diversity — like he wrote a year ago. I thought there was so much they could have talked about, but they kept it within the white-black paradigm.”
Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said he was also disappointed and suggested that the Academy and activists stop using the term “people of color” when they actually intend it to mean something else.
“Inclusion is about all of us,” he said. “Let’s stop using ‘people of color’ when you mean black. Don’t say ‘people of color’ and not include Latinos, Asians and Native Americans.”
Speaking to reporters backstage, Iñárritu added his thoughts on the issue, saying that the “debate is not only about black and white people.”
“I think diversity really includes brown. I think we are yellow and Native Americans and Latin American. The word is much more than one or the other,” he said. “I think it's becoming a little bit very polarized, very politicized, without observing the complexity and beauty of this country being so mixed. That is a real power of it."
"We are still dragging those prejudices and tribal thinking at this time. It seems absolutely absurd," he added.
The conversation about neglecting Latino talent in Hollywood is an ongoing struggle that Sanchez and Nogales vow will continue well past the Academy Awards until full inclusion is seen.
“We are going to be meeting with studio heads in the coming weeks and trying to forge a memorandum of understanding,” Nogales said. “We did it with TV and, as bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse. We are going to go at them even stronger.”