Representation Matters

I love watching the telly. Especially during lockdown, it seemed as if my small screen could transport me to other worlds and give me the opportunity to zone out of everything that’s causing stress at the moment. It’s allowed me to be a bit of a kid again and see things I normally wouldn’t ever get to see. In the times of Covid, being able to escape for a bit from the weight of the world is vital.

So, in my newsletter, I have an “Angie Recommends” section. In which, I share what I’ve been watching/reading/viewing in the world that I think you’d also enjoy.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about Disney+ and it got me thinking. There’s so much culture on this channel from animations to superhero films to exclusive content found nowhere else. And the thread that runs through all of them has been representation.

From Black Panther to Hamilton to Beyonce’s amazing film “Black Is King”, people who look like ME are filling my screen. And it matters, quite a lot actually.

Representation not only changes how the world sees us, it changes the way we see ourselves. This is especially impactful to our young people. Entertainment saturates every area of our lives, from music to the telly to the big screen. It seeps into our consciousness and shapes the beliefs we hold about ourselves and others. With disproportionate rates of white actors and artists flooding our lives, what message does this unconsciously send to our black youth?

It seems that 2020 is changing that in many ways. I was so excited to watch Hamilton with my girls recently and it made me remember when I was fortunate to see it live on the West End with my daughter Kammie. We were the ONLY black people there. There were so many cultural references in that musical, when Thomas Jefferson sang so profoundly “If you don’t know, now you know.” (A reference to the song Juicy by Notorious B.I.G.) Kammie and I cheered loudly at that part and were met with stares! Representation matters.

Another moment that impacted me so profoundly was when Stormzy performed at the Glastonbury Festival. He brought out Ballet Black and Gospel singers and changed the world. Being the first black solo British headliner at Glastonbury festival, opening to a spectacular pyrotechnic display on the Pyramid stage.

BMX riders took to the stage during Vossi Bop, Chris Martin came out to duet on Blinded By Your Grace, and Dave and Fredo joined Stormzy to perform their recent single Funky Friday. “The reason I invited them here,” Stormzy explained, “is that Funky Friday the first pure British rap song to go number one in the UK

J.K. Rowling cast Noma Dumezweni in West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it wasn’t received well by some but to young black Harry Potter fans, it meant the world.

And, for all of you superhero fans, just this week it was announced that we will have a Black Batwoman!!! Isn’t she just GORGEOUS?

So it seems that the “norm” is changing, bit by bit. And whilst the thought of change gives many discomfort, it gives so many of us so much hope. More, please. Much much more.

What are your thoughts on representation? Let’s talk about it on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!