These Five Black Celebrities Are Skipping the Oscars for the Best Reason

February 23rd 2016

Lucy Tiven

This year's Oscars nominees have spurred a great deal of backlash surrounding Hollywood's lack of diversity. While some black actors have spoken out about why they will attend this year's ceremony, five major Hollywood stars—Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Hannibal Buress, Jesse Williams, and Janelle Monáe—won't be there, and are hosting a free event in Flint, Michigan on Oscar night.

The recent #OscarsSoWhite debacle arrived at the same time as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which disproportionately impacted low income, Black communities. The #JUSTICEFORFLINT event will be hosted by comedian Hannibal Buress at Flint's Whiting Auditorium and provide a platform for Flint residents to open up about the crisis.

The hosts said that they chose the date because it was the last Sunday of Black History History month, and not to make a statement about the Academy, but the contrast between the Oscars' white-washed, Hollywood opulence and the struggle of Flint's communities' struggle to get safe drinking water is stark and difficult to ignore.

The #JUSTICEFORFLINTEVENT will be streamed live online, providing an alternative to viewers who are boycotting the Oscars ceremony or simply would rather support the Michigan city and its residents.

“With the #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit event we will give a voice to the members of the community who were the victims of the choices of people in power who are paid to protect them, as well as provide them with a night of entertainment, unity, and emotional healing,” Ryan Coogler told BuzzFeed News. “Through the live stream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint’s youth.”

Many celebrities have spoken out about injustice in Flint. Beyoncé was applauded for her commitment to dedicate tour proceeds to children of Flint, which she announced after her iconic and politically charged Super Bowl performance.

Democratic primary candidate and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also addressed how environmental racism contributed to the Flint crisis in a recent Democratic debate.

"We've had a city in the United States of America where the population which is poor in many ways and majority African-American has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water," Clinton said. "And the governor of that state acted as though he didn't really care."

You can watch the #JUSTICEFORFLINT event on revolt.tv and contribute donations via text message throughout the night.

[H/T Buzzfeed]