“FT: Is it possible to truly include everyone, or will there always be some identity excluded? How do we do our best? #sachat”
Positive and diverse representations in the media are important. I doubt you would find any individual that would say, “Actually, I prefer the same cookie cutter representation to be in every form the media because I want to see absolutely no differentiation.” Sounds crazy, right?
So we take the next step, and we begin diversifying. (In order to prove a point, I am going to make some horrible generalizations here.)
“Middle aged white men. Let’s change some of these to women.”
“Okay we have some women in the mix, good for us! But I guess we need some people of color.”
“Cool, we have some people of color. But wait, there’s other races we need to include too.”
“Awesome, men and women, and some different races too. Wait, but what if someone doesn’t identify as a man or a woman? Let’s add another…”
“But wait… now what about….”
Will we ever reach the end?
Remember back in the day in the basic level of Sims? Or when Wii first came out, and you got to create your character? A lot of people were frustrated because while you could customize your character, it never really looked like you did it? There was always something off—the hair color, skin color, height, face shape, etc. Whether you had 5 options or 20, did you ever reach enough options to make it fully represent you?
I think we treat the media the same way. We have this expectation that we are not represented, so there needs to be another option. But at what point do we have too many differences? We strive for perfection, and it is good that we continue to grow. But will we ever be able to reach a point where we are satisfied? Instead of pulling each other down when we get frustrated and don’t feel represented, how can we encourage each other to ensure we continue our growth and progress?
A lot of my experience with inclusion often focuses on exclusion. Why do we do that? Why is it that instead of focusing on what we did well and how to improve, we focus on what we did wrong or what’s missing? Well, when it comes to representation in the media, I feel like we do this a lot. Instead of focusing on all the groups we do include, we focus on those we are excluding. While I’m not saying this is wrong, we do have a problem with that mentality: think about how many different identities and co-cultures you identify with. Go ahead… give it a count.
How many did you count? Three? Five? Twenty? If you’re like me, you probably can’t even keep track with all your different identities. How many do I have to list to prove my uniqueness and explain my own story? I am proud of my identity. I am proud that no matter how many different groups I identify with, I will always be unique and am the only “me.”
We are so focused on inclusion, but is it really possible to include EVERY different type of representation in the media? If it is, we are definitely far from it, and we all know that. We have a definite problem here. How can we shift our focus to include a variety in our representations, instead of just focusing on what is excluded? How do we continue to grow in inclusion with representation in the media, instead of focusing on the exclusion and not knowing how to fix it?
Honestly, that’s an answer I still don’t know. But I hope that one step at a time, one identity at a time, we can continue growing and diversifying. I hope that we can continue focusing on how to improve our inclusion. If we can identify which groups we are excluding then we know which group we need to start including.
What are your thoughts? Please connect with me on Twitter and share. @Amanda_Koslow