Realty or Reality: What’s the motivation behind our representation?


Minorities, of all kinds, everywhere are under the misguided belief that they can have control over how their stories are told and how, if at all, they are represented in the media. Here are a few ways we keep black queers down.

“The decision makers largely give opportunities to people who look like them.”
-David Oyelowo

The media controls what you think is going on in the world, what you think is the “hip” cause to be involved in. The media defines for us, “activism”. Most recently I sent information regarding my Kickstarter to a very popular blog that said it would consider running it (the blog focuses on queer stories). However, the next day I was surprised to see, that it did not run a story on my Kickstarter, it instead ran a story about the “untold queer stories”. And I thought, my story is an untold story, what could this be? And it was an indiegogo project for a film about two white gay men, one being a hustler and the journey to find the strength to accept who he has become… The media decided that was the story worth telling. That it was the “untold” story. Of course, we have no way of knowing if it was indeed consciously or subconsciously about race…. but, you don’t see my Kickstarter on a major blag, do you?

There is a theory that when we watch a film or television show, we are looking to watch ourselves. This theory has been used to back the idea that black works don’t do as well with white audiences, but I’m not sure it’s that cut and dry. Minorities obviously don’t look like white people and we watch plenty of their shows and our own, here’s my stance on why. Minorities grow up with white people being in the center of major motion pictures and television shows, so we are, of course, accustomed to seeing them in these forms of media. We also want to see work that represents us, so we watch that too. But, when you are the majority, there is nothing that makes you step out of your way to see people who don’t look like you in films and television shows. There is of course the occasional exception, but for the most part, you can go on listening to music by people who look like you, watching television shows that only have characters that look like you and not notice what’s being left out.

Do not offer me the role of the black best friend.
Do not offer me the role of the twerking sidekick.
Do not offer me anything “ratchet”.
Do not offer me the role of the troubled youth.
Do not offer me the role of a slave.
Do not offer me the role of the drug dealer.
People know these characters and stick with them.

We are often limited to these roles… and they influence how the world thinks about us. I’m not interested in continuing that.


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