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#OscarsSoWhite | Are the Academy Awards still relevant if people of color aren't included?

This year’s Oscar nominations reignited #OscarsSoWhite, the viral hashtag that calls out the Academy for its lack of diversity.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Academy will hand out the highest honors in filmmaking at the Oscars on Sunday, but a popular hashtag is calling out the awards show for its lack of diversity... again.

#OscarsSoWhite was created in 2015 by April Reign to challenge the lack of representation of marginalized communities in Hollywood.

"#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair," Reign tweeted in January 2015 in response to the Academy Award nominations.

While the Academy is not quite asking to touch Black women's hair (that we know of), the lack of diversity is being noticed outside of Hollywood.

RELATED: Oscars 2020: Full List of Nominees

Sacramento filmmaker Imani Mitchell is not quite looking to be acknowledged by the Academy right now, but she said what's going on in the entertainment industry is a problem.

"When I see the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, it just reminds me of a very real issue that’s still going on in Hollywood," Mitchell said.

Mitchell recently wrapped her first independent film, "Whirlpool." The movie, shot in Sacramento, features an all-Black cast and a multi-cultural production team. Mitchell said she is determined to create more nuanced roles for Black actors, even if the Academy never takes notice. 

Credit: IAM Studios
Filmmaker Imani Mitchell (foreground) recently wrapped her first independent film, “Whirlpool.”

"I think there have been strides that have been made," Mitchell said. "There are a lot of actors of color and directors of color who are producing great work and content, but I think there is still progress to be [made]."

In response to the backlash over the award ceremony's lack of diversity, the Academy announced an initiative to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

RELATED: Again? Oscar nominations slammed for persistent lack of diversity

In 2015, 8% of Academy members were people of color, according to Jenny Stark, communications studies professor at California State University, Sacramento. Stark said the Academy has met its goal of doubling members of color, but they have fallen short when it comes to women's members. 

"The percentage of women went from 25% to about 32%," Stark said. "There have been changes, but it's pretty clear that that wouldn't necessarily change the total makeup of the Academy and cause sort of significant changes in their choices."

This year's nominations reignited #OscarsSoWhite. Cynthia Erivo, who portrayed Harriet Tubman in "Harriet," is the only nominee of color in the acting categories. Movies with largely minority casts such as "The Farewell" and "Dolemite is my Name" weren't nominated in any category.

Performances by Jennifer Lopez ("Husters"), Awkwafina ("The Farewell") and Lupita Nyong'o ("Us") also went unnoticed.

RELATED: Billy Porter claps back at his haters after Oscars gown criticism

"As we get to be more diverse as a culture and as the Academy stays the same or continues to stay the same, I think it will become less relevant because people will not see themselves up there on the stage," Stark said.

But there are a few bright spots among the nominations, including director Bong Joon-ho's film "Parasite." It’s the first South Korean film to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best International Feature Film.

Still, for emerging filmmakers like Mitchell, the Oscars may be the most prestigious award a creative could win, but it's not necessarily a measure of success.

"I think there's a lot of politics that goes into the Oscars. I don't think it's the only value system of film," Mitchell said. "I think that if you have a community around you who supports your project, that’s what matters the most."

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WATCH ALSO: Mark S. Allen previews the 'Best Picture' category at this year's Oscars

All week long we are getting you ready for the Oscars, with a look at the favorites to win in the biggest categories. Here is the Best Picture preview.

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