A while ago, when I was but a Cinema Studies student I didn’t want to be the “black Cinema studies student.” By this I mean that I was learning was not exclusive to discussing black history, or be the “go to” for critique of black cinema. Not that my professors ever placed me in that position. Like everyone else in CS I wanted to learn, grow, and write my observations based on film theories. I learned a lot, and from that experience grew into a better-informed man on film history, theory, and film form. My education empowered me.
Currently my cinema studies goals are on permanent hiatus as I am not in a place where I can take it up again, and be successful with it, but that’s not full the topic at hand. I’m looking at things I love, like action films, gaming, comics, and animation, and I don’t see a lot of people of color, and perhaps that’s my limited scope, and I LOVE different genres, like fantasy, science fiction, action, drama, comedy, etc., and I want to know, where are the black people?
Are we marginalized? Are we overlooked? Are we not interested in the aforementioned genres as a people? Could we get into these genres? I’m confused (a little) and a lot bored with the lack of mentioned diversity. For the record, I’m not singling anyone out, or telling any creator how to work their storytelling magic on their creations. What this situation does for me is it makes me rethink what I am writing, and how I can infuse a lot of what I want to see/read with something I find lacking in the mediums.
What I do wish to point out is from time to time it wouldn’t be so bad to see a hero, or heroine who can be noble, brave, strong, competent, and inspiring who happens to be black and leading the situation as opposed to following.
I can tell you, when I was a child, the lack of images of blacks in film, TV, and books lacked so hard. It was tough growing up and having the feeling that you can’t be good enough to be seen. Even picture bibles lacked any diversity or color in the people they depicted. That’s the kind of stuff that stays in your psyche. One never thinks about it until they’re discussing it. It’s almost a manufactured, internalized shame wrought upon society against one’s culture.
What I can do is place a lot of thought into the creation of my characters, and their backgrounds. What I don’t want to do is create a series of perfect beings that can’t be human, flawed, or simply wrong at times. I cannot erase the negatives out of my life, nor do I want to. The world simply isn’t perfect. A sad, cruel play however, not an excuse to try and do better, and learn.
What I’d like to see for myself, as a writer, a person, and as a guy who loves all sorts of genres is to remember that diversity and wanting to see a likeness of myself in various mediums, starts with me, and spreads outward. I won’t know what I come up with and share with others unless I put effort into the process.