By: Amber Wilder
It seems to me as if the world forgets that minorities matter and representation is important. Visuals on various media outlets not only level the playing field but it also fosters positive images for children as well. They need to see positive representation of themselves as it is freely given to non-minority children.
It seems as if from the lack of diversification and minority representation that minorities are this new “alien” species that have only come about within the past 20 or 30 years. We know if we were an actual alien species, there would be accurate representation or full annihilation. I’m leaning towards the representation aspect, please see the countless sci-fi movies, television shows, and books.
We see daily how we are passed over for jobs whether in the workforce or in the industry. Award shows capitalize off our music and culture yet we are not rewarded for our achievements. In the case of Chance the Rapper, it comes after fighting and petitioning for the committee to include new categories and genres. For Taraji and Viola, it comes after years and years of her being passed over. For the masses, sometimes it seems as if their acknowledgment(s) will never come.
When we watch television, most of the mainstream shows are saturated with people that do not look like us. However, when there is one brown person or someone that appears brown (we all know Hollywood loves to use ambiguous race people), we latch onto them with a fierceness. We do not want them to die or be killed off because they happen to represent us to the best of their ability amidst writing that can be great or subpar. Case in point – horror movies where the black person is the first to die or a television or movie where the black person acts nothing like us or anyone we know. We root for the black or brown person even if we despise their character because these are the cards we have been dealt continuously.
Watching a blockbuster movie that is predominately black or brown is like a treat for us almost because Hollywood would rather sprinkle mediocre diversity like #saltbae instead of actually employing amazing actors, which they are many. It is a travesty yet they act surprised when we show up and show out for movies like Hidden Figures which is portrayed immaculately (We all know bio-pics and “based on”movies can be messed up).
Some would say that we do have representation in the form of reality television but that is a bad example of representation of the whole. The masses do not act like the women and men on those shows which are for pure entertainment purposes but it seems as if the media chooses those examples to mandate those actors as the representatives of the entire race which is unfair.
As a 22-year-old black woman, I am constantly looking for representation in what I watch, what I listen to, and especially in the mobile or video games I play. When I watch popular or hidden television gems, I am still looking for representation in the characters. I want to see my people shine in their chosen profession – I want to root for them. In radio, I want to not only listen to people but music that I like which is not to say that I listen to just r&b and hip-hop which can be assumed. There are black people that listen to country music which should not be surprising at all. I want to listen to topics and opinions of those that I feel I can relate to. When it comes to games, whether video or mobile, if there is an option for character customization with appropriate skin tones, I choose the closest to mine because I want the character that I am playing to REPRESENT me. If I cannot relate, why am I listening, watching, and playing the game?
I find the same tropes with the same typecasting boring, drab, and a waste of resources. I will not watch the show, finish the game or listen to the radio station if it is the same trope with the same type of people cast over and over. That is the entire point of diversity and casting different people in different and new and improved tropes. That is why we campaign so hard for us to be in movies, not just in acting roles but as directors, screenplay writers, and other behind the scene opportunities. That is our entire point in voicing, continuously, our opinions. When we are not given the opportunities, we take and make them for ourselves. The world is not made up solely of white people nor does the world revolve around them contrary to what some may think.
It pains me when I read and hear of the horrible things said and written about black and brown characters, hell people, in television shows that I may and may not watch. It is disheartening to see and hear of the hatred that people have towards others. What is the point and purpose of calling them out of their name or likening them to animals? What did they do besides play a character that you may feel should be white? Why do all the characters have to be white? I thought we had more than enough whitewashing of history, television, and movies for a lifetime – please advise if I am mistaken.
I just think it is a crazy idea that everyone would not want representation in the media and that they are fine seeing the same type of people day after day and year after year.