Ever since I started working at The Conversation, I’ve seen the same stories crop up every awards season: The Oscars are too white. The Academy is too staid, too old, too out of touch.

But Timeka N. Tounsel, a Black studies scholar at the University of Washington, thinks it does a disservice to the very real advances made by Black filmmakers and actors to focus so intently on the major awards.

After delving into the history of Black exclusion and denigration in Hollywood, she explains how a separate filmmaking infrastructure emerged in the 20th century – movies made by Black people, for Black people.

Now, unburdened by the shackles of Hollywood gatekeepers and the pressure of mass appeal, Black films have thrived in the streaming era, broadening the types of Black stories beaming into living rooms across the world. She points to two Black films from the past year – “Master” and “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” – that won’t appear on any awards list, but are worth watching.

This week we also liked articles about the first decade of Francis as pope, the hot jobs market and how gambling on sports can lead to threats to college athletes

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

Regina Hall starred in two 2022 films that reflect her versatility as an actress – and the evolution of the types of Black films that are getting made. Araya Doheny/Getty Images

Yes, #OscarsSoWhite – but there are still plenty of reasons to celebrate contemporary Black film

Timeka N. Tounsel, University of Washington

Big-name awards can certainly be a boon for Black filmmakers and actors. But they don’t reflect the breakthroughs that have been made in the types of Black stories that are getting told.

A trash compactor rolls over an active dump site at Pioneer Crossing Landfill in Birdsboro, Pa. Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Will we eventually have to send our trash into space if we run out of room on Earth?

Kate O'Neill, University of California, Berkeley

Humans generate a lot of trash, but there are cheaper and safer ways to handle it than loading it on rockets.

Americans are expected to bet $167 billion on sports in 2029. Sutad Watthanakul via Getty Images

As March Madness looms, growth in legalized sports betting may pose a threat to college athletes

Jason W. Osborne, Miami University

As sports betting becomes more prevalent, so do the risks to college athletes, gaming experts argue.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    Scientists say that springing forward into daylight savings time is worse for your health than what?

    1. A. Smoking a carton of unfiltered cigarettes
    2. B. Chugging a bottle of bourbon
    3. C. Falling back in the autumn
    4. D. Texting in the hour before bedtime

    Test your knowledge