Why Representation Matters
We keep repeating it, “Representation Matters” over and over, in education, on the big-screen, in art, toys and dolls, but do we really understand why it matters?
To some, it may seem like black people are always complaining. However black, Asian, and Latina actors were conveniently missing from the Academy Awards nominations just LAST year. Think about the last 5 times you have gone to the movies, how many black actors have you seen? The last award show you’ve watched? How many actually were nominated in their respective categories? Now you see the problem?
What we don’t realize is subconsciously everything we are seeing on television, on social media, on bill boards, on commercials, etc affect how we think about things, how we view people, how we view ourselves.
You can’t celebrate a culture you know nothing of. I’m not sure if it’s different now, but when I was in school, the only black people in my history books were slaves. I didn’t know we were kings and queens with riches and gold, and I wouldn’t have found out without digging for myself. Yes, we have a black history month but do cities put on parades and celebrations like other cultures and celebrations?
Can you imagine what our self-esteem levels must be like? If there is no representation of minorities, we will feel less sure of ourselves. Why is a Latina not good enough for the front page of a magazine? Or an Asian on a shampoo commercial? There are stories, memories, history, and valuable information embedded in the representation of your culture in your every day life. I deserve a Barbie doll with 4C hair, because I can relate to it. I can be a proud black boy if my hero is a proud black man.
Representation is essential so it matters. We have to continue to break down barriers, tell great stories, and place a green light where there was once a stop sign because our kids and their kids need to see themselves doing great things in this world.