Nearly eight years after #OscarsSoWhite sparked discontent when the awards ceremony nominated no people of color in its 2015 acting categories, the hashtag creator April Reign reflected on her “organic” decision to speak up, saying it was not initially an “intentional” effort to kickstart a global movement.
“I’m listening to the nominations and it just struck me that the nominations, person after person, category after category, there were no people of color nominated,” Reign told CBS Reports in an exclusive clip of the upcoming Black Twitter documentary shared with TheWrap. “So I picked up my cell phone … and I said “#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair.'”
“For this particular hashtag, I thought there was a larger conversation that could be had about the lack of equity and inclusion, not just with respect to the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, but throughout the entertainment industry,” Reign continued.
“Black Twitter: The Twitterverse that Changed a Generation,” which premieres Feb. 23, gives viewers a peek into this pivotal viral moment as just one way that Black Twitter has fostered community and a drive for social justice both on Twitter and across social media platforms.
While Reign was surprised to see her tweet soon trending around the world, the hashtag “changed the Oscars,” according to journalist Jemele Hill.
“It made people more cognizant, more aware that there was this feeling and sense in our community that our accomplishments, our contributions weren’t being recognized by what is the signature body in Hollywood,” Hill said in the clip.
In addition to shifting the cultural conversation, the hashtag can further be linked to tangible shifts at the Academy as the governing body created a representation and inclusion initiative, which boosted the voting members of color from 8% to 36% over the course of five years.
“Throughout history, Black people have found ways to preserve cultural experiences through self expression,” CBS News anchor and national correspondent Jericka Duncan told TheWrap. “Black Twitter is another example of how we can learn from each other and laugh at it all, in the name of love.”
“Black Twitter: The Twitterverse that Changed a Generation” premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS News Streaming Network and can be found on CBS News, Paramount+ or by downloading the free CBS News App.
Watch the exclusive clip in the video above.