Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman weighed in on the renewed race controversy surrounding this year’s all-white Academy Awards nominations on Wednesday in London, where he also implied American police officers are guilty of targeting and killing young blacks.
Speaking to BBC on the red carpet at the National TV Awards, Hoffman, now 78, said “subliminal racism” is to blame for the deaths of young black Americans at the hands of law enforcement, and the lack of Oscar nominations for black actors is merely an example of systemic racism.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced a week ago that all 20 Oscar nominations in the four coveted acting categories have gone exclusively to white actors for a second straight year. The announcement of the nominees has led numerous prominent entertainment figures to condemn the Academy, and some have pledged to boycott the Feb. 28 telecast.
“In our country, there’s a subliminal racism, and it’s been there. The end of the Civil War didn’t change that — it’s only been 200 years. This is just an example of it,” Hoffman told the British outlet.
The Graduate actor added: “Other than black entertainers being nominated, there’s a bigger problem with young black individuals being killed on our streets by police. That’s a bigger problem.”
Hoffman’s comments echoed those of 12 Years a Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o, who commented on Instagram earlier Wednesday that Academy voters are guilty of harboring an “unconscious prejudice” against black performers.
Nyong’o wrote that this year’s lack of Oscar diversity “has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture.”
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement on Monday describing her heartbreak and frustration surrounding “the lack of inclusion.” She also promised that “big changes” were ahead.
“The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership,” Isaacs said. “In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”