Diversity: Does Equal Representation Really Matter? Yes, It Does.

December 20, 2017

 

 

It's 2017, we live in the era of the Bernie Bro's vs. Trump supporters. The social justice warriors vs. the not-so-politically correct conservative patriots. So if you spend enough time on social media, (or at family get-togethers during the holidays) then you're familiar with the issues surrounding race and sexual orientation in the media. Recently, there have been a trend of movies, and TV shows that seem to intentionally aim for marginalized audiences. For example, the all-female remake of the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, the all-black remake of Steel Magnolias that aired in 2012, and the 2015 remake of Annie, featuring a multi-racial cast and a black girl portraying little orphan Annie. 

 

But its not just remakes jumping on the trend, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson spoke on how he is all for more diversity in film, specifically the recent Star Wars movies which have gotten media attention for trying to be politically correct in their casting choices. Some people feel that forced diversity and inclusion, or how they like to put it, "new age affirmative action" is silly and unnecessary. While on the opposite end, others believe that Hollywood is long overdue for some real diversity and inclusion in TV and film. Specifically in genre's like sci-fi and fantasy where people of color are known to be left out or "Token". Films like the Harry Potter franchise are one of many to be criticized for not featuring enough people of color, or re-casting and race swapping, although JK Rowling is known to be a huge advocate for equal representation in her books and real life. She defended the Cursed Child casting choice of a black Hermione when some fans weren't too happy about it. 

 

But its not just TV and film, some people of color and the LGBTQ community feel that books also tend to lack a fair representation of them. Its hard to find books that center around these people that aren't filled with stigmas and stereotypes, even when written by their own. Black boys want to be wizards too, and queer black girls want real love stories that aren't erotic and written for the pleasure of horny men.

 

I conducted a study on diversity and inclusion in most forms of media, where participants were different ages, genders, and from different racial backgrounds. 11% of respondents said that women of color are equally represented in most forms of media, while 88% said they are not. When it comes to men of color, 33% said that they are equally represented, while 66% said no. When it came to who was the least represented, women of color held the top spot with 66% of respondents saying they were, followed by men of color at 22% and white women at 11%.  White men and women were pretty close when asked who was the most represented. 55% of respondents said that white men were, while the other 44% felt it was white women.

 

I also asked if people felt that the LGBTQ community was equally represented. 66% said no, while 33% said yes. Out of the 66% that said no, more than half feel that LGBTQ women of color have the worst. It's also important to note the gender differences in these studies. While most agreed that people of color in general are not represented equally, 11% of black men feel that men of color, especially those that are LGBTQ  are often left out. 

 

But regardless of people having different opinions on representation of different groups, one thing all participants agreed on, was that even when these groups of people are potrayed, negative stereotypes are a common issue, which takes the movement of equality two steps forward but five steps back. As a woman of color myself, I can assure you that it is so important for people to be able to see themselves in a positive and unique light when watching TV and reading books. It's important to break down cultural barriers while at the same time, still allowing people to feel connected within their own. Stepping outside of racial and gender stereotypes, and redefining what it means to be black, male or female, or gay. 

 

Thanks again to those of you who participated! 

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