Gay Latino Oscar Voter Pens Letter to Academy President: "Are You Saying I Am Racist?"

Oscar Statuette Generic Art - H 2013
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Oscar Statuette Generic Art - H 2013

This piece by Mark Reina, a member of the Academy's public relations branch who spent most of his career at Warner Bros., is part of an ongoing series of guest columns by Academy members about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the Academy's response to it.

Some of my colleagues in the Academy thought people might be interested in the points I raised in the email I sent to Cheryl Boone Isaacs (below). I have not received a response.

Dear Cheryl Boone Isaacs,

I understand your need to respond to the criticism the Academy has recently received about the lack of diversity among the Oscar nominees. However, I am baffled at your and the board’s choice of a response.

I worked in the industry for over 20 years, most of that time as a film studio executive. Because of that, I am currently a full voting member of the Academy. Under the new rules it appears as though that right will be denied me in order to make the Academy and therefore the Oscar nominees "more diverse."

Are you saying I am racist or have racist tendencies and need to be excluded from voting? Are you saying if I worked another 10 years I would vote differently? Are you saying that I have not made my voting choices on quality but rather on the color of the artists’ skin? Are you saying that I have voted (consciously or unconsciously) to exclude women, members of the LGBT community and other minorities? I find it insulting and ignorant. I take my membership responsibilities seriously and am honored to be part of the Academy. I have paid my yearly dues, cast Oscar ballots each year, voted in categories only when I have seen all the films and consistently been involved in and voted on other AMPAS matters since I was invited to join in 1995.

I am a gay man and my father is a Latino immigrant. Please explain to me how denying me my right to vote makes the Academy membership and the Oscar nominees more diverse?

Thank you in advance for your response.

Mark Reina