Black filmmakers are “Changing the Lens” thanks to new campaign
Over 100 black filmmakers, including Savanah Leaf, Prettybird’s Calmatic, and Park Pictures have organized to create a new initiative that calls for an increase in black representation across all levels of media production. The initiative launched a “Change the Lens” pledge earlier this week to encourage creative companies to commit to increasing diversity in their organizations.
The “Change the Lens” pledge is bigger than just more black filmmakers
Since black people compromise 15% of the population of the U.S. and London, “Changing the Lens” asks creative companies to pledge that their employees will reflect 15% black representation as well. The goal is not only to have more black people present in the media we consume, but also have them present in the decisions made about how the media we consume is created.
The “Changing the Lens” pledge asks for more than just hiring more black filmmakers, it encourages 15% representation of black voices in all roles. In addition, the pledge also asks that creative companies consult with an independent head of diversity and inclusion that will be paid on retainer. A consultant on diversity is a valuable role that many creative companies have never had before.
This pledge can give us filmmakers and creatives from all walks of life
This new pledge is a wonderful campaign that could be beneficial to the whole community of under-represented people who are not white. Although the focus is exclusively on black filmmakers and creatives, this initiative can easily be used to create a more diverse and well represented media ecosystem for all groups.
The lens that privileged white people present needs to shift towards a more meaningful perspective. Black allies from all groups should be considered when discussing the need to be inclusive and provide underrepresented perspectives. This is not to take away from what the pledge seeks to do, but only to strengthen the conviction in the need for a world without racism.
Other underrepresented communities deserve their filmmakers to have a say
Indigenous communities have not only been underrepresented but also pushed to near extinction and now only represent 2% of the total population of the U.S. The Hispanic community comprises 19% of the total U.S. population. Asian communities comprise 6% of the total U.S. population. These groups also deserve dignity and a guarantee their voices are heard – whether as filmmakers or in other roles
The Black Lives Matter movement has awoken a powerful recognition that our current system is broken and rigged against people who are not white. Because of BLM we are able to have an open discussion of just how bad things are for black people in America, but this should also be taken as an opportunity to highlight many of the other injustices made against non-white people.
Filmmakers and Artists can join together to promote diversity and freedom for all
Only by forging strong and meaningful alliances between groups of underrepresented peoples can a truly meaningful freedom and diversity develop in our modern age. To avoid creating strong bonds with these groups is the same mistake that white people have continued to make. A move towards thinking about the whole group of underrepresented peoples is what is most radical.
These, of course, are only humble suggestions. The group of underrepresented people doesn’t stop there, but it doesn’t need to ramble on endlessly either, as many people in those groups may also belong to other underrepresented groups such as the queer and trans communities.
We are happy to see such a meaningful and necessary pledge being taken up by creative companies and look forward to the day where an entire nation of peoples is equally and fairly represented in its media.