This is bigger than just this year
As Rock acknowledged in his monologue, the Academy's diversity issue is reflective of larger structural problems that have plagued Hollywood -- and American society -- for ages.
However, the criticism became a particularly common point of the conversation about the Oscars in 2015 when the nominees for last years awards were announced and favorites like Selma director Ava Duvernay and star David Oyelowo were not included. Writer April Reign created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to express her criticisms of the Academy and quickly the hashtag quickly became a rallying cry for anyone frustrated by the lack of minority performers and filmmakers being honored.
"There was no way for me to know that a single tweet that I made from my family room in January of 2015 would have the impact that it has," said Reign in an interview with NPR earlier this year. "And I'm not sure that anyone ever really knows what hashtag is going to become viral until it does."
Then this year's nominees carried on the trend
After the criticisms of last year's awards, many hoped that this year's nominees would provide a different narrative, but that wasn't the case. Though director Alejandro González Iñárritu was again nominated for Best Director, the acting categories were once again filled with all white actors, leaving acclaimed performances from Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Benico Del Torro, Samuel L. Jackson, Mya Taylor, Tessa Thompson, and Teyonah Parris off the ballots this year.