Many of us have been deeply upset and angered by the events that have been taking place in North American for decades (actually more like centuries) in relation to the racist crimes visited upon the black and brown people of North America. And of course the UK is not free from criticism in this area.
This moment, with the casual racist murder of George Floyd by a police officer seems to be significant because for the first time in a long time that message of outrage at the injustice is being listened to and stood behind by by non-black and brown people of the world.
A key part of what I am working towards at DigitalEnablr is to address this imbalance of messaging. Too frequently and in a way that has become the norm in the West, images, stories and the people enabled to tell stories are far from being representative of the world’s population and seldom offer a chance to offer up a different point of view aside from that of the white west despite plenty of people fighting to be heard.
Recently I read a brilliant article penned by Isis Dallis, President of Bukwild which pulls together key and brilliant points as to why this shift in representation is key to the necessary changes.
“Much has been written about media portrayals and the impact they have on public attitudes toward people of color, about the history of racial stereotypes and how these stereotypes were deliberately crafted and strategically used to reinforce white supremacy either by excluding or minimizing the contributions of people of color or by depicting them as violent, dangerous, simpleminded, greedy, untrustworthy, or lazy.
This collection of dehumanizing and objectifying stereotypes, and those that have followed, have dominated the mainstream cultural record of the lives and character of Black people for centuries. There is a long, painful account of the evil deeds and destruction that can be done to Black bodies with impunity when not seen as fully human.”
Dallis also goes on to give a list of really practical tips on how the creative community, content producers, and leaders of agencies can take real steps to be the change that needs to be seen.
Another article that caught my eye was one by Alissa V. Richardson on the website Talk Death which unpacks what the sharing of these images of the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery means in the context of the history of images of the mistreatment and murder of black men and women. The article puts into sharp focus how smartphone in their ability to capture life have brought new power to these images, and also how through the use of social media platforms the ways in which these images are now shared needs some thought and reflection.
I fully recommend both of these articles and hope that going forward we all take full responsibility for the ways that we tell stories, the way we empathise with our fellow human beings and the way we help improve the social injustices that we are all responsible for either ignoring or calling out.