While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
Growing up, there seemed to be much more black people in the media, especially within television programmes such as ‘One on One’, ‘My Wife and Kids’, ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ and ‘Desmonds’. I found many of these programmes very identifiable, especially Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Philip and Carlton Banks were both well educated black individuals that aspired to enter competitive professions and educational institutions, which is something that I also endeavoured. Many of the episodes covering issues concerning black people being minority within these professions and educational institutions still stand today and for me, it’s encouraging to have been able to have watched these episodes at a younger age and grow up knowing that it’s not only faces these issues. Most of these programmes addressed discriminatory issues that many black people faced at the time concerning aspects such as employment, education and other life choices. In my opinion, there was a decline in many television programmes that catered towards black people simply because it did not entertain or relate to the predominantly white audience and at times, may have made them feel uncomfortable as many white people generally tend to avoid racial issues as they will never have to experience them. Though, it’s a shame that my children may not be able to view television programmes or any type of black role model in the media to help address racial issues that will undoubtedly still exist in the next 10-20 years.
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?
In school, there wasn’t much representation of black people, although, I remember being told about a former pupil who attended my secondary school. Baroness Valerie Amos was the first black deputy head girl in my school, she went to have a become successful career and became the first female black head of a UK university last year. She was always a figure in our secondary school to look up to.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important?
Diversity will always be important. It reminds us that people of every race has the potential to succeed in any profession and subject of study, hence the lack of diversity reflects the lack of oppourtunites given to ethnic minorities. Within the UK’s top universities, there seems to be a disgustingly low percentage of black people, and the lack of representation of my race is what makes it hard for a lot of black people to cope with day-to-day life due to the mild racism that we frequently face*. Though, one black person representing our race is better than none, because it is important to show the other races that we are capable of attaining the same things they can and it gives hope that we will grow in number in the years to come. Within the media, there is a need for diversity and representation of the black race to increase as it is important to inform the British public that we still face the same issues that were occurring 20 years ago and establish the fact that everyday is a day closer to racial equality, whether they like it or not.
*e.g. This was addressed in the #ITooAmOxford & #ITooAmCambridge- click here for more info.