Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Diversity Matters to Me

Why does Diversity matter to you? Oh, my bad. We should probably agree on what the term 'diversity' means first. The dictionary defines diversity as The state or fact being; diverse; different; unlikeness..., Uh yeah sure. You know what? I'm going go with my boy Buggin' Out from Do The Right Thing who immortalized the definition of diversity with one question: How come ya ain't got no brothas up on the wall?
That's it.  That's diversity. Now let us move forward. So again why does diversity matter to you? Tough question? OK, I'll start... Diversity matters to me because I'm inundated with images of other in TV and Film. Diversity matters to me because because my image, my story, my American Experience is important. It deserves to be heard, to be seen.  Diversity matters to me because my peers know nothing about me outside the office. Oh they know the caricatures because that is all they have been exposed to but they do not know me.  Which is sad because I know them, and have known them all my life. I'm familiar with their favorite movies, books, music. Not to say they are a monolithic group but I'm even familiar with the diversity within their universe.  But when I bring up my favorite movies, books, music they're surprised. They have never heard of the movie Cooley High or Paul Beatty's brilliant Tuff, and since Talib Kweil get's no radio play he is not even in their orbit.

Me? I'm not so surprised by this.  But more important than anything Diversity matters to me because of my daughters. They are intelligent, beautiful, athletic, funny, and... black. When was the last movie that represented that? I'll help you... Love And Basketball. And I'm mad.  I'm mad because I can't count the number of movies I've seen before I got to experience it.
That locker scene in Love and Basketball when the young ladies are talking about their futures, their love for basketball, their dreams, had never ever been seen on film. Ever. A group of woman having an honest discussion about their limited future prospects and it had nothing to do with men! That is one of my favorite scenes of all time. It is in a word poignant. And the world had to wait for Gina Bythewood to bring it to life. And you know what? Mrs. Bythewood latest film Beyond The Lights  promises more of the same.  That is to tell a story from a diverse perspective that can resonant with the public at large but have a special relationship with, as the dictionary would say a, different segment of the population. And I will be in line on opening night because Diversity matters to me.  But you never answered the question; Why does diversity matter to you?