Black Islamic Rights Group Protests #OscarsSoWhite Nominee Luncheon


Demonstrators from Project Islamic Hope gathered outside the annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills on Monday to protest the lack of diversity among this year’s acting nominees.

According to the Wrap, roughly a dozen protesters stood outside the hotel with #OscarsSoWhite signs, featuring a white Oscar statuette on an all-black background. The outlet also reported that heavy security was in place at the hotel, including two separate automobile checkpoints and a “rigorous” on-site credentialing process.

Los Angeles-based civil rights organization Project Islamic Hope called for the protest on Friday.

“We’re not just asking African-American talent not to attend the Oscars, we’re asking the entire industry to support the boycott and show their solidarity in support of diversity,” Project Islamic Hope director Najee Ali said in a statement. “The white Hollywood community has a large segment of liberal, politically-conscious actors, writers and directors. Our coalition is asking that white Hollywood take a stand against racism and support the boycott as well.”

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy exploded anew last month after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated exclusively white actors in top categories for a second consecutive year. The move led to boycott pledges from Hollywood stars like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee, and to calls for a national “tune out” from the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Project Islamic Hope director Ali is a former gang member and well-known community activist in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times, he served two years in prison for armed robbery in the 1990s before becoming an outspoken critic of law enforcement, and in particular, the LAPD. Ali was sentenced to an additional four years in prison in 2008 for reportedly attempting to bribe a witness in a criminal case involving his daughter.

In addition to calling for a boycott of the ceremony, Project Islamic Hope is asking everyone attending this year’s Oscars to wear a black armband or ribbon in support of diversity.

Most of the stars nominated for awards attended Monday’s luncheon, including Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lawrence, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro G. Inarritu.

The 88th Academy Awards air Sunday, February 28 on ABC.