A Discussion on Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity

In response to USC Annenberg’s publication of their Hollywood diversity report, researchers Stacy L. Smith and Katherine Pieper, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and podcast host David Greene. The group discuss the issues concerning Hollywood and their neglect of diversity.

Statistically speaking, the transcript mentions that about 40% of the national population are people of color, however, only 28% have speaking roles within recently released films. In addition, the transcript covers how Hollywood’s major film distributors fail at making diverse films which reach to people of color.  Katherine Pieper, who helped create the USC report, mentions the value of diversifying the film industry. Pieper says that diversity ensures that everyone’s story is being told on screen. When there are less people of color represented in film, the film loses the audience’s favor and interest. In addition, a growing distrust in film will continue since numerous films do not accurately represent the nation’s population.

A transcript of the podcast can be found here.

Citation:

Smith, Stacy L., and Katherine Peiper. “Researchers Examine Hollywood’s Lack Of Diversity.” Interview by Eric Deggans. NPR. NPR, 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Seeing Yourself: The importance of stories

 

Multicultural and diverse representation in literature can be boiled down to a universal concept: we all have stories.

What do I mean when I say diverse?

All diverse experiences should be recognized, including (but not limited to)  “LGBTQIA community, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”

We are never going to exhaust story-telling as a medium for connecting. It is one of our fundamental instincts; race and language are not barriers with story-telling, they simply enrich the experience of listening to someone’s mind. Story-telling is universal because we understand their necessity and how they feed our emotions and education. It is not an education that is institutionalized or halted outside of a classroom; it’s a cycle that informs the way we live. So why should that be any different than the stories we can hold in our hands? As a writer of color, I have never been validated with printed words. I would always have to re-wire them in a way that allowed me to see myself as the protagonist. In the back of my head, however, I was hyper-aware that these stories never seemed to be written for me.

White authors have always dominated our high school reading lists. Think of the authors and books that are considered “classics”- Shakespeare, the Brontes, Hemingway, Austen. These authors deserve their place in literary history, but they only convey a certain kind of history. Culturally specific experiences are near impossible to find in, not only school, but the best selling lists we are so often exposed to.

As a writer of color, it’s my responsibility to educate others on how our voices carry valuable experiences, just as anyone. The importance of seeing yourself in a story cannot be stressed enough. We are all deserving of a story that reflects what we know as life.

Reading more diverse literature has the power to convey the universality of human experience and show that we really have more in common with one another than expected.”  – Sunili Govinnage

Source:https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/24/i-only-read-books-by-minority-authors-for-a-year-it-showed-me-just-how-white-our-reading-world-is/?utm_term=.96b252babe76

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African American Inventions & Inventors

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Photo Source: http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/inventors/images/tt_index_main.jpg

In school, you learn less about African American’s greatest contributions to America. Most students don’t know about African American inventors and the importance of their inventions. Black people have created many helpful and/or some ordinary necessities, that most people use on a daily basis.I’m going to give these great women and men the recognition they deserve.

So, I’m going to list a couple of famous Black inventors and innovators below:

  1. Inventor: Lloyd P. Ray improved the earlier model of the dust pan.
  2. Inventor: Sarah Boone invented the ironing board.
  3. Inventor: Garrett Morgan created traffic lights.
  4. Inventor: George Crum created potato chips.
  5. Inventor: Alice Parker invented the water heater furnace.

Basically, Black people were responsible for many household items and universal products, but haven’t been heard of in many schools and educational institutions. Whether or not, Black people invented something or not they also improved and bettered  the designs and structures of other items like the refrigerator, mop and many other important items. These people deserve to be recognized for their smart thinking and great contribution to America.Without African Americans, America would have an incredibly  difficult time and so you can read about many other Black inventors in the link below:

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/michaelblackmon/things-that-wouldnt-exist-without-black-people?utm_term=.xfRD3Mdox#.voa2N6Wg1

Interesting Facts About American Indians

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Photo Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/d8/fd/fa/d8fdfa7ec4986965c038f4a64995dada.jpg

Foremost, “Indian” or “American Indian” is the politically correct name instead of Native Americans, but for some reason Americans stick to this unfavorable label. American Indians were forced the name, “Native American”. Anyway, schools don’t teach students much about American Indians, expect for common stories of Pocahontas and John Smith or Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims inhumane act of mass murder. Nothing else, but shortened information of tribes, casinos, and so little info on the culture of American Indians. So, I found some interesting facts and information online on American Indians.

Here are a couple facts on American Indian:

1. “Lacrosse was first played by people of the Southeast, especially the Choctaw. French settlers thought the stick looked like a Bishop’s crosier (hooked staff), so when they introduced it to Europe, they called it La Crosse, which became lacrosse.”

2. “Europeans introduced several new and fatal diseases to the Native Americans. The most well-known disease was small pox, which decimated the Native Americans. Others killers included cholera and measles”.

3. “Many Native American women were sharpshooters and able horsewomen”.

4. “Over 75% of residents on Indian reservations in the U.S. are non-Indians”.

5.  “Even though they were not citizens, over 8,000 Native Americans served during WWI”.

There are more interesting facts to read about in the link below:

Source: https://www.factretriever.com/native-american-facts

Suggested Readings and Poetry

While this list is not exhaustive or exclusive, it is wide ranging in audience. The goal of reaching out to those who can’t see themselves in a story is to gain more diverse perspectives. Literature is largely related to fiction, but we should view it (and the writers of it) as something concrete. People of color’s experiences are part of the human experience, and only when that is realized in our art forms can those identities can be realized in the West.

 

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

White Teeth, Zaddie Smith

After Dark, Haruki Murakami

Love Poems, Pablo Neruda

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed

Another Country, James Baldwin

Kindred, Octavia E. Butler

Foreign Soil, Maxine Beneba Clarke

Open City,Teju Cole

Saree, Su Dharmapala

Manhattan Dreaming, Anita Heiss

 

Children Literature

Source: http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/literature.html

Representation in children literature is what I believe to be the most important. In their formative years, it is integral to build their identity and the art they consume effects that identity.  Kids tend to garner low self-esteem when they open a book and cannot identify with the characters in front of them. No kid should have to evaluate what little they know of life through someone foreign in concept, or worse, through stereotypes.

Below are excerpts taken from an article that shows the significant effects multicultural literature has on children. The entire research project can be read on the site provided above.

Pioneer researcher, Florez-Tighe (1983), was one of the first educators to advocate the use of multicultural literature in school curriculum.

Taylor (1997), a more modern researcher,  conducted a study of twenty-four African- American and Hispanic American fifth grade students from the Southwest. The children were given twenty-four picture books and were instructed to give their opinions of each book.

Twenty children “did not give high approval ratings to the melting pot books” and identified largely with the culturally conscious ones (Jambo Means Hello, by Muriel Feelings, Tar Beach, by Faith Ringgold, and She Come Bringing me that Little Baby Girl by Eloise Greenfield, were their favorites.)

Taylor’s (1997) results suggest that to increase an African- American child’s interest in reading, and improve their reading proficiency, culturally conscious books can be a valuable asset.

 

Hispanic Historical Figures

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In history class, students commonly learn about historical figures such as, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and so on. Recently, what I’ve noticed is the lack of recognition of Hispanic leaders and historical figures in educational environments. Most history textbooks don’t showcase accomplishments, major events and important contributions by Hispanic people. So, I’d gladly like to introduce you to a couple of Hispanic leaders.

Article: 25 MOST INFLUENTIAL HISPANICS IN AMERICA

“From music to politics to business, Hispanics are remaking America. TIME presents 25 titans leading the Latino charge into the 21st century”.

List of People:

Alberto Gonzales – 1st Hispanic Attorney General

Mel Martinez – 1st Cuban-American Senator

Antonio Villaragiosa – LA’s 1st Latino Mayor

Gustavo Santaolalla – Helped pioneer the mixture rock and Latin music

Robert Rodriguez – Hollywood Director

To be continued……

The rest of the influential Hispanic historical figures are listed in the link below:

Article Source: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2008201_2008200,00.html