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Dustin Hoffman on Oscars: ‘It’s Always Been Racism’

Actor Dustin Hoffman, shown at an independent movie theater's opening in New York, March 2, 2016, says Hollywood's racial diversity problems 'reflect what this country is.'

Dustin Hoffman says there's a systemic racial problem in America that goes beyond the Oscars.

The two-time Oscar winner did not attend Sunday night's ceremony, nor did he watch the broadcast. But he was in the same place as this year's recipient of an honorary Academy Award who boycotted the show.

"I went to see the Knicks game and saw my friend Spike Lee there all dressed up for the Oscars, but he was at the Knick game,'' Hoffman told the Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Director Lee attended the basketball game at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a black tuxedo. Comedian Tracy Morgan, who was part of an Oscar skit, also was at the game.

For the second consecutive year, there was a lack of diversity among Oscar nominees, with only white actors getting the nod.

"Well, it's always been that way. It's not anything new, like Chris Rock, I heard said, 'Why this year,' '' Hoffman observed.

During Rock’s opening monologue as the awards show’s host, the comic questioned the controversy, saying: "It's the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole [no] black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.''

Hoffman, 78, was blunt about why it's been that way for so long.

"It's always been racism. It's kind of a reflection of what the country is,'' said the actor, famed for his work in films such as "The Graduate," "Midnight Cowboy," "All the President’s Men" and "Tootsie."

As for his thoughts on what can bring more diversity to Hollywood, Hoffman said, "We change when the people that are oppressed force it to change.''

Hoffman made the comments while attending the opening of the Metrograph, the first independently owned movie theater to open in Manhattan in more than decade.

"They call my era the golden age of film," Hoffman said. He said that golden age "still exists, but it's done by the indies, and I think that is what this theater is for.''