Representation Matters

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/

Throughout history, African Americans have been looked down upon. They were highly underestimated for their talents and skills. Additionally, African Americans have been severely underrepresented in popular culture. Both the WeNeedDiverseBooks.org website and the media film Hidden Figures focus on representations of the keyword ‘race” in ways that show the importance of positive role models and abilities.
One example of discrimination in our country’s history occurred in the 1960s in the NASA space program. NASA relied on African American female mathematicians for assistance. Their stories are shown in the film Hidden Figures. The plot centers around three women, who each have different skill sets and contribute to the program in diverse ways. They experience a lot of discrimination including everything from getting pasted over for promotions to having to walk half a mile to use the bathroom. Despite it all, these women played an integral part in getting the first astronauts into space and safely back to earth. Although underappreciated, these women broke barriers, persevered, defied the odds, and added their names to the history books.
Representation in the media is incredibly important when it come to influencing children’s lives. As Katharine Capshaw Smith wrote in her keyword essay “Race”, “within children’s literature and culture, representations of ‘race’ often reflect history’s problematic racialist thinking.” This has been a problem for decades across the world. But recently, changes have started to be made. The WeNeedsDiverseBooks.org website explains several reasons why it is imperative that kids experience diverse representation including, “seeing reflections of themselves,” and “learning the true nature of the world around them.”
Young people are heavily influenced by role models in their lives. It is a positive sign to see these kind of movies and websites being created. Children especially need to see positive successful African American females in media. This encourage young girls to pursue their dreams and believe in things that would have been impossible for them hundreds of years ago.

2 thoughts on “Representation Matters”

  1. When I was a child, I always found myself gravitating towards the actresses with blonde hair because I, myself, was a blonde. At the time I never thought of what it would be like to not have a character to relate to or resonate with , but now after looking at things from a more mature standpoint I realize the downfalls of not having diverse characters in movies and books. I can tell that as time goes on and things progress, there are more diverse representations of children in movies and books, and this is important. By being represented in literature, children are able to think of themselves as capable and worthy and this is very important for young children.

  2. Although I believe we are making strides towards inclusion in literature and film, I don’t believe it to be reaching children as much as it should. A child may not see the movie or read the website. This is why I believe schools are the forefront of introducing diversity in literature. Teachers are able to form curriculums that include the processes of inclusion and the confident attributes of diversity.

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