The 89th Academy Awards ceremony was historic in so many ways. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an award for supporting actor. Viola Davis won her first Oscar for her role in Fences. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who won an award for the best foreign language film, blasted Donald Trump without even stepping in the room. And Moonlight, after a historic mistake, took home the award for best picture.
For an awards ceremony that's been rightfully derided in recent years for refusing to acknowledge the work of artists of color, Sunday night's show was an important step in the right direction.
But April Reign, the woman who coined the phrase #OscarsSoWhite, the hashtag that encapsulated that criticism, isn't taking all the credit.
Reign wrote on Twitter late Sunday that while she was humbled by the outpouring of congratulations thrown her way, "Viola, Mahershala, and the wins for Moonlight happened because they were DESERVED. Not because of #OscarsSoWhite."
She's underscoring an important point. #OscarsSoWhite highlighted an enduring problem in Hollywood, namely that filmmakers and actors of color weren't recognized for their achievements by the industry at large. That fed into a lack of representation that has real consequences, ranging from young kids' self-esteem to policy making.
But at its very core, the goal of diversifying representation in Hollywood is to allow the work of artists of color to be judged on the same platform as white people's art. In the case of Moonlight's wins, it shows that the stories of black boys are important and worthy of being told. And in this political climate, that's more important than ever.