The Importance of Representation Amongst People of Color
While growing up I found myself watching many movies and TV shows which I loved; however, I did not realize the kind of impact it had on me. Majority of the shows and movies I was watching were played by a white lead or the entire cast was white which resulted in me never seeing characters that looked just like me. For this reason, it made me feel like I should look just like those characters and cause me to always want to straighten my hair, want to be skinny, and have a lighter skin tone. I believed that this was normal but as I became older, I realized that this was not okay and these movies and shows for kids lacked representation and impacted us negatively. Quickly, networks like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel realized this and began producing more Black lead or all black cast TV shows.
Representation of people of color is important because it exposes children to positive images of other racial groups, discusses racism, and acknowledges biases on one’s self. For instance, a common theme that was used in Disney channel shows would be a loved white lead and a ridicule (person of color) best friend. You can see this common theme in shows such as Austin and Ally and Good Luck Charlie. However, they also tried to have black leads in a positive spotlight in shows like A.N.T. Farm and That’s So Raven. Where they would have Black leads that showed that kids of color can have talents and be leads as well. I believe that shows like this inspired me to believe that one day I can be just like them and I wouldn’t have to change a thing about me. As a result of seeing this change this also made me realize that I should not be settling for less when it comes to big franchises and networks. I shouldn’t accept them not valuing or demonstrating how important diversity and inclusion is.
I believe because of this realization that I and multiple other people of color had franchises and networks needed to step up their content. Additionally, this also resulted in various networks being called out and receiving an extreme amount of backlash for racist and inappropriate movies and tv shows that were produced. For instance, Disney has received an extreme amount of backlash for a lot of their content because it included many harmful stereotypes of people and cultures. Because of this they decided to have a disclaimer in the beginning of those movies in order to show awareness and spark conversation instead of brushing this under the rug. I believe that this shows terrific public relations because they decided to take this hand-on and not avoiding the situation. They knew that they did something wrong and went public. They let their audience know they made a mistake which was wrong back then, but now they are doing everything they can to avoid those mistakes again. Which in my personal opinion is one of the best ways to handle situations like this. Plus, this shows to their audience which is mainly kids that taking accountability is important and mistreatment to people and other cultures is not okay.
Overall, I believe that the representation amongst people of color is important because it exposes children to positive images of other racial groups, talks about racism, and debunks biases on yourself. Lastly, PR plays a huge role in these kinds of situations because it shows whether or not companies would rather take these kinds of issues that need to be talked about hands on or just brush it under the rug.
Written by: Dary Felix