“Many white people generally tend to avoid racial issues as they will never have to experience them”

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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.

From I, Too, Am Cambridge 

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“It may be useful in educating children about their history rather than having a dominant narrative in textbooks (of colonisers vs the colonised)”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
Richard Blackwood, Bradley from s club 7 and black male actors
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
No one except in black history month, mostly historical figures eg. Olaudah Equiano

‘Olaudah Equiano was a prominent African in London, a freed slave who supported the British movement to end the slave trade’

Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
I think it helps children to have role models that are feasibly attainable eg. A first female president, something which some girls may think is unlikely and not worth pursuing. Also it may be useful in educating children about their history rather than having a dominant narrative in textbooks (of colonisers vs the colonised)

“It was generally just the people they expected us to know i.e Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. Hardly any women.”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?

Well i was born in Uganda and looking back on it now, the popular soaps that everyone watched were Spanish, so they had European actors speaking Spanish with subtitles at the bottom. At the time i didn’t think anything of it because there were other shows with people that looked/spoke like me. But coming to the UK, i found that there was hardly any black people in the media ,especially black women. But because of this i found myself drawn more to ‘black tv programmes’ like Trouble which used to have Moesha, My Wife and Kids and so much more.
 
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
In school i don’t really remember learning about any specific people that looked liked me, well no one that stand out. It was generally just the people they expected us to know i.e Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. Hardly any women once again.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important?
Diversity and representation is very important, i think now more than ever. Young people especially, should be able to see that no matter what ethnicity they are, that they can see people that look like them, speak like them and maybe also have had to experience the same hardships they’ve been through. This should tie into all things, whether it be in their day to day lives, or through the media. Young people should also be able to study on a deeper understanding about their history and the people that have played involvement in getting them to wherever they.

“Our generation is so much better than older generations, we are more accepting of ‘different’ people”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?

It was never something that I thought about growing up but looking back there really was no female asian that I saw in any kind of media. Which is sad and disappointing! I understand there could be various reasons as to why that might be the case because not many asian girls aspire to be actresses etc. But sometimes I think it’s because there is no one us asians can aspire to be like. There are no asian supermodels, hardly any really successful asian actresses or asian singers so who do we aspire to be like? I always grew up thinking that it would be impossible to be a really famous actress or singer or something along those lines just because we aren’t the norm in the society we live in. I wish it wasn’t like that. I was told growing up that working in those kind of industries that i wouldn’t do well because of the colour of my skin so I guess that’s why most of us end up following the educational routes where your grades matter more than your looks.

I also think the Asian characters shown in media follow these ‘negative’ stereotypes, they’re often seen as the nerd in movies or the Asians are the doctors. For example in Angus, thongs and perfect snogging the Asian girl that was the weird one who found it harder to get the guys. Other examples I can name are pitch perfect and mean girls. The majority of the time i do find it quite funny but sometimes i’m like why can’t the Asian person be normal and be the main gal for once. Even the black people are often portrayed as more aggressive but yet the white people are always the loveable characters that everyone wants to be.
I’m not saying that a white person can’t be my role model but it would be great to see an Asian person doing just as well and be able to relate to them.

 

The thing that sucks the most is that growing up I always thought you had to be white to be pretty and now i know that is ridiculous but it’s the sad truth! But I love that there are now more role models of other ethnicities because it gives me hope and someone to look up to that has done well despite the colour of their skin. Like look at Beyonce and Rihanna, they both are just so fab.


In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?

Again, honestly no one that I can remember from the top of my head. Where are all the asian poets and book writers at? Where is all the asian history at? To be honest I only did history up until year 9 so i can’t really argue that point. I think it would have been great for us to learn about the history of other countries that’s not Britain.



Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 


I think diversity and representation makes people so much more open minded. WE SHOULD REPRESENT EVERYONE. If you teach kids from a young age about religion, race, sexuality etc. It will give them a better understanding and they can form their own opinions and views from what they learn rather than the views inflicted on them by society. I’m not going to say it will get rid of discrimination but I think it will help. It will give the kids that have no idea about the outside world what it really is like to be in other people’s situations. Till this day I will never understand why people discriminate. Like what joy do you get out of it?!?! What joy do you get telling a person who isn’t white to leave your country?! If you were educated you would know that you don’t own this planet (soz if you didn’t know you were just a product of evolution that has a particular colour of skin) and you would know that if it wasn’t for the action of your ‘own people’, a lot of people would have stayed where they came from.

I will never understand why people discriminate against those who are bisexual or homosexual – why does it matter who you fancy?!?!?! Really what difference does it make! We all just want to be happy! In school i think these issues aren’t spoken about because these topics are taboo subjects – so if we know they are taboo why don’t we talk about them more. I love talking to my friends about race and stuff because it gives me a better understanding of other people. Our generation is so much better than older generations, we are more accepting of ‘different’ people but there is still that minority that need to learn that their skin colour does not in any way make them better than anyone else. I don’t know if racism will ever go away because i think there will always be the minority who will discriminate and people who don’t mix with other ethnicities without realising but school and media are a great way of representing the ethnic minorities to help change views.

When minority groups are not represented, in a way they begin to feel isolated. I was watching a coming out video of a famous youtuber where we he was talking about how he came out and the struggles. Reading through the comments section honestly made me tear up there were so many young people who felt like they were the only one struggling with coming out, they felt isolated and so many of them had suicidal thoughts. The comments section was a community where they were all able to relate to one another, they had gone through the same struggle but videos of their role models made them feel more comfortable and happy – it broke my heart. It goes to show how representation is so important because we all rely on knowing we’re not the only one and I honestly think it can help the mental health of so many people to know they’re not alone.

We live in a great world with so many different people – different races, cultures, religions – why not learn about them? It’s great and so interesting! So many great stories just being lost because not everyone is equally represented. It’s really all about educating people! School and media are things that help to shape people so why not use it?

Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough

“In school there really was a lack of conversation about experiences of people of different races”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
As a child, I enjoyed listening to R&B music, and in those music videos the majority of artists or back up dancers were black. I feel like a lot of children’s television shows tried to have at least one black character so there was always somebody there representing the race. In particular, That’s so Raven was good in terms of having someone in the media that was like me.
 
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?
In schools, I feel like there really was a lack of conversation about experiences of people of different races. Other than covering the slave trade in history I feel like subjects that had the opportunity to discuss racial diversity didn’t really do so. For example, in PSHE, we would spend about 3 years discussing safe sex and not taking cannabis, but part of those 3 years could have been used to discuss those who are similar to me, and others, in terms of race and so on.

Could be a great tool in having race discussions in school 

Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
I think, in particular, with young children, the lack of diversity and representation can lead to ethnic minorities having a Eurocentric view of beauty and think their inadequate just because of their skin tone, by having representation minority children can see that they aren’t “weird” but are beautiful regardless of their skin tone. Having representation in the media allows us to identify with someone and embrace ourselves from a young age.
Diversity is also important in limiting ignorant views. Because of the general lack of representation, I do think that in some cases Caucasian people are ignorant to the issues ethnic minorities face. Representation will bring about understanding. If discussions about racial equality, diversity and representation are put into the school curriculum at a younger age, there will be a general greater understanding.
Without representation, large groups of people go without their voices being heard. That’s not fair on them and by having a more diverse media, people can find someone to identify with, and feel like their voices matter.

“Cultural diversity from a young age is absolutely vital”

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As somebody who enjoyed writing, journalism seemed like the obvious option and so I decided that I needed a figure within my post to look up to. I would sit in front of the television watching Emily Maitilis on the BBC news at about five am every day, dedication at its finest. There was even an opportunity whereby I was able to go to the BBC studio and watch the news live, Maitilis was there and I became even more inspired. I just saw an incredibly talented woman whom I wanted to be like one day. The mind of a child does not wander too far and delve too deep into things but growing up I only recall there being one newscaster that looked like me and that was Trevor Mcdonald on the channel four news. I did not really see it as a problem, rather I observed that the media did lack colour particularly within the academic sector.

Being a child schooling in south east London, my class and school were pretty diverse. There were about eleven of us that were not English and so I did not really feel all that different. Though the curriculum did not specifically focus upon black history, every October there was a celebration of Black History and bodies within the school such as after school clubs did their best to teach on the importance of Black History Month, calling upon iconic black figures such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. One thing I remember most distinctly is my teacher in year three giving me a book on the most famous people in history. Of course there was Adolf Hitler, the lunatic that wished to create a master race but within these pages also lay a silent hero: Rosa Lee Parks. I was incredibly in awe of and inspired by Ms Parks and I truly admired her assertion and her defiance to stand up for what she believed in regardless of the consequences. I thought that people like her were brave and ought to be remembered and so when I was given the opportunity to initiate a name for the building that was to be opened within our school, I suggested that it was called the ‘Rosa Parks’ building. The school opted for Mary Seacole building, which was close enough.

It was when I moved away from culturally diverse London and into Essex that I truly began to stand out. Within the entire school, there were only about four black children, myself included. October came and went and there was no mention of Black History Month during the two years that I was there for. Though I had very strong values and a good sense of who I was as a black child, others may not. I am eternally grateful for having gone to my first primary school because they embedded into the children that every person and every race was important. Cultural diversity from a young age is absolutely vital because children need to know that we are not all the same and being different is not something that ought to be frowned upon but rather understood and embraced. I feel that cultural diversity within the media is slowly evolving but there is still a lack of diversity within academia. For instance, young people that aspire to be politicians are given a false message that in order to be one you must be white, between the ages of forty and sixty and you would have to have gone to the Oxbridge universities. This should not be the image to look up to. Where you can work towards going to an Oxbridge university, you should not feel that your colour is a hindrance to apply for certain posts. This needs to change.

 

“If it was not during Black History Month, I didn’t learn about anyone that looked like me”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
I grew up in South East London which is very culturally diverse and as far as I remember growing up, the person I can think of who resembled me in the media was Kelly Rowland. At the time, I was a big fan of the Destiny’s Child and Kelly Rowland was the only dark skinned black woman I would see on TV and even aspire to look like when growing up.
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
In primary school, if it was not during Black History Month, I didn’t learn about anyone that looked like me but then when I moved to Ghana I started learning about Ghanaian history so it was more relevant to me personally. I think that the fact that I lived in Africa for 6 years ( 2 years in Ghana and 4 years in the Republic of Benin) made me learn more about people that were more like me and had similar experiences to me, and I don’t know if I would have been exposed to such information if I had stayed in the UK for most of my secondary school life.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
I think diversity and representation is important because we live in a world where we are all different, we all come from different places in the world and I think it is important to acknowledge that. Refusing to be diverse is in my opinion refusing to accept what the world is like. Representation is even more important I believe because even if we are all aware of diversity, it is not accurately shown and that is in my opinion a shame.

Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough

“In England I feel like we try and conform and don’t really like the race conversation”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
I’m not really sure if it was as common to see other girls rocking natural hair when I was younger. Some examples of black women I can think of now include: Lauryn Hill, Raven Baxter in That’s So raven (before she became the Raven she is now) and Alicia Keys?
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
In school, we learnt about Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman in brief. I read the Noughts & Crosses series by Malorie Blackman around year 8, which was particularly eye opening for me. Not sure about similar experiences to me though, as growing up I didn’t really know of any African & Caribbean spaces.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
I think diversity and representation is extremely important, because it teaches us how to be comfortable with ourselves and embrace our features and not associate them with “other”, not beautiful, different or abnormal. Mediums such as blackoutday have created a space where I can see other black people, embracing their features and their idiosyncrasies and quirkiness with no regrets. Particularly in England where I feel like we try to conform a lot and don’t really like the race conversation, it’s refreshing to see people with waist length braids and purple Afros and extravagant makeup all flying the same banner — black and proud. I don’t really know but that’s the vibe I get from just blackoutday, so imagine children actually growing up and seeing more people looking like them and coming from the same places? It just makes your goals and dreams seem just that bit more attainable. In the school curriculum particularly, a lot needs to be done with regards to representation. It’s sad, but a lot of the time you either stumble upon this type of exposure or have to go out looking for yourself.

“I didn’t learn anything about what it means to be Afro-Latina”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?

I don’t really remember seeing people who looked like me. The only person who I could vaguely relate to was America Ferrera when she was in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Even then, she did not look like me much. She was of a lighter skin tone and had straight/wavy hair while I’m more tan with big curly hair.
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?
Ha, no one. I didn’t learn anything about the Dominican culture or what it means to be Afro-Latina. We skimmed through black men and white woman with great achievements but when it came to women of color, I didn’t learn anything. And even as I finished my senior year of high school, I still have yet to learn about women who look like me or women of color or women in Latin America. The only time we learned of Latin American leaders was in the context of their role in the trials and tribulations of American Manifest Destiny. Of course, they taught us about the Haitian Revolution but only because it later galvanized a set of revolutions in European countries. I explore more of the lack of diverse history taught in America in this piece I wrote. See below:
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
My favorite author Junot Diaz once said something along the lines of, monsters don’t have reflections in mirrors and that’s how I felt growing up, never seeing anyone who looked like me. Without proper representation, children growing up will never have their appearances or cultures validated. They will always be looking to assimilate and adjust to the images prevalent in the media, images that encourage people of color to abandon their culture. Representation I believe helps foster self- love. By seeing those who look like you, you can begin to accept who you are, where you came from and the lives of those before you.

“When I was younger I relied on media from the USA to see people that looked like me”

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While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?

To be honest, I think when I was younger I relied on media from the USA to see people that looked like me. There was definitely a lack of Black-British representation although things have improved since I was younger. However, I think that is part of the reason I had such an affinity to 90s/2000s shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, My Wife & Kids, Sister Sister, That’s So Raven – because I got to see families and people who looked like myself and my family. Most importantly, these shows centred on black characters rather than just having them as minor characters adhering to a racial stereotype. Someone I really valued when I was growing up was Malorie Blackman. I vividly remember the turning point that came for me when I read Noughts and Crosses. In many ways her novel taught me more about institutional oppression than all of my history lessons! It also meant a lot to me, as someone who spent a lot of time in the library when I was younger, to see black characters on the cover of a novel.

The turning point came for me when I read ‘Noughts and Crosses’. In many ways it taught me more about institutional oppression that all of my history lessons.

 

In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you? 
I didn’t really until Year 9 where we spent a short time in History lessons on black history and learnt about the Windrush in Geography. However, by that time a lot of what we had been taught I had already had to find out myself after tiring of hearing about the Florence Nightingales  I relied more on my family, books and even the Internet to teach me about the Mary Seacoles that had been neglected by the school curriculum.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important? 
Seeing yourself represented is not just important, it’s necessary. It’s acknowledgement that you exist, that you are enough as you are and above all, that you matter.

Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough