Carson on all-white Oscars: 'Americans have far more important concerns'
© Greg Nash

GOP presidential candidate Ben CarsonBen CarsonGovernment indoctrination, whether 'critical' or 'patriotic,' is wrong Noem takes pledge to restore 'patriotic education' in schools Watchdog blames Puerto Rico hurricane relief delays on Trump-era bureaucracy MORE says that while "Hollywood could do a better job of honoring” a wider variety of Americans, he has bigger things to think about than a race-based boycott of the Oscars.

“Americans have far more important concerns than a few Hollywood elites handing themselves awards,” Carson says in a statement emailed Tuesday to The Hollywood Reporter.

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The Academy Awards have been at the center of a brewing controversy since its nominations were announced last week. For the second year in a row, the 20 acting nominees are all white. A slew of celebrities, including directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore, as well as actress Jada Pinkett Smith, have slammed the Academy for the lack of diversity, saying they plan on boycotting the February awards show and reviving last year’s Twitter tag #OscarsSoWhite.

"I’ve said often that diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths,” Carson says. “Americans from all walks of life have riveting and important stories to tell, and Hollywood could do a better job of honoring all of these stories, regardless of who tells them or the ideology they represent.”

But, Carson writes, “at the end of the day, the American people have far more important concerns than a few Hollywood elites handing themselves awards. If we paid as much attention to growing the economy as we do to the extravagant, more than $30 million Oscar party the glitterati throw for themselves, we might have fewer families wondering how they’re going to make ends meet.”

Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Scienes President Cheryl Boone Isaacs responded to some of the criticism on Monday, ahead of Carson’s statement, saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” among the list of nominees. Boone Isaacs promised to “conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity” in the coming weeks.

"I’m not terribly concerned about Hollywood’s image,” Carson, 64, says. “I’m worried about creating a more vibrant America to provide a better future for our children and grandchildren."

Carson temporarily suspended some campaign activity on Tuesday when three volunteers and a staffer were injured in an Iowa car crash.