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95th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Source: Arturo Holmes / Getty

The Academy played in Angela Bassett’s face once again. Almost thirty years after her horrifying snub for 1993’s What’s Love Got To Do With It, she was again nominated for an Academy Award that she did not win.

Bassett was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The character’s swan song featured the superhuman strength and dignity of a fictional monarch. 

In real life, Bassett sat and watched Curtis’ name called in place of her own and showed the disappointment on her face because she is not the mascot for Black women’s grace; she’s human. Not even a few seconds passed before she was punished for that humanity. Bassett received backlash for not standing and clapping for Curtis, the winner in her category. Some even went as far as to label her reaction to the dumbfounding loss as “kinda shady.” 

Expecting Bassett to stand out of her seat, upturn her mauve lips, and politely clap while being denied what she rightfully earned is unreasonable. 

 

95th Annual Academy Awards - Red Carpet

Source: Jesse Grant / Getty

Think about how you would feel when you receive a quiet promotion instead of the title change and salary bump you deserve. It’s an honor to be nominated, but it feels hollow when you deserve to win. 

Bassett has had an enviable career where she has earned that golden statuette several times. The fact that she doesn’t have one is ludicrous. 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is an impressive film that mainstream critics have salivated for all year. Jamie Lee Curtis is a national treasure (and the best part of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season 12), but this isn’t about her or the movie. 

It’s about history.

The most shocking part of Basset’s snub is not that she lost. It’s that this was only her second nomination after playing Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X, giving us grown woman goals in How Stella Got Her Groove Back and executing an unforgettable monologue in Waiting to Exhale. She mastered her roles and gave performances that should have baited the Academy, but she was continuously snubbed. 

Poster For 'Waiting To Exhale'

Source: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive / Getty

The Academy has been doing logistical gymnastics to shift shape into a more diverse organization after writer April Reign called them out by creating the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. But those efforts still need to erase their track record of failing to reward people who have met and exceeded the standards for decades.

Discrimination and bias in the entertainment industry remain rampant despite all the panels and festivals where corporations pledge to do better. Starz, a network full of Black shows repeatedly snubbed by the Television Academy, is so fed up that they are working with legislators to try and force change through policy. 

Black Twitter immediately ran to the timeline to show Bassett love. Many said she doesn’t need an Oscar to be our queen, and that’s true.  

Yes, we have our own, and if Black celebrities like Zendaya, Viola Davis, and Quinta Brunson continue to show up at places like the NAACP Image Awards or ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards, we will continue to have our own. But there are national news outlets that don’t even bother putting reporters on the ground for events like the BET Awards or the Soul Train Awards. They ignore Black accolades and call actors who have been working for years “newcomers” and “fresh faces” when they crossover erasing their accomplishments. 

The 54th NAACP Image Awards - ArrivalsSource: Gilbert Flores / Getty

So mainstream awards still matter. 

It matters that P-Valley does not get the Emmy nod it deserves. It matters that Grand Crew isn’t getting the attention it should, and it matters for working actors from marginalized communities. 

Black actors winning and losing mainstream awards matters because White America can only see us in the reflection of their own shadow. 

It makes a difference to the next Angela Bassett doing self-tape auditions over zoom while trying to make a name for herself, and Angela Bassett knows that. So if she wants to sit quietly in her seat instead of playing the gracious loser to comfort others, let her — she has earned that too.

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Angela Bassett Doesn’t Need An Oscar But She Definitely Deserves One  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com