10 Reasons Why Inclusion in the Arts is Vital
The calm after the awards season is here, and I had many thoughts on what I saw and did not see during this time. And while Chance the Rapper won 3 Grammys without a label, and Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture, I still couldn't shake lasts year's #OscarsSoWhite sentiment. Not that this is new, but what we witnessed this years seemed to be a more concerted effort at inclusion than ever before which left me slightly conflicted, yet hopeful. Adele beat out Beyoncé, and Denzel didn't win for Lead Actor again, but we still had glimpses of a more fair and well-rounded selection process.
Instead of complaining, I decided to jot down 10 reasons why inclusion in the arts is vital to our humanity moving forward.
Because it's nice to see someone that looks like you achieve their dreams.
Sometimes you need an example of the accomplishment of a seemingly impossible dream to believe in your own. Call it inspiration if you want, call it motivation if you need, but some of the most successful people have someone they refer to as their "role model". Musicians (famous or not) look up to Michael Jackson, actors site Denzel Washington, and aspiring entrepreneurs and future moguls probably hold Oprah in high regard. It shows us that it's not "impossible" with hard work and drive. Especially in careers involving the arts where pursuing this path often is not seen as a viable means of income, there are ample examples that prove this is not always the case.
Because the stories and successes of people of color are the stories and successes of all people.
This is a no-brainer to most of us. We are humans all born on this earth. One day we will all be dust. Our DNA is almost nearly the same, and we all bleed, eat, sleep, and think. Humanity.
Because representation is more than inclusion: it's fair.
Long after the Civil Rights Movement, we are still asking some of the same questions: why don't we feel equally represented? The underrepresentation in essentially every realm of hierarchy is almost annoying, at this point. Let's face it, there have been times where black and brown art that was far superior in many ways but was not recognized at the time yet went on to be regarded as classics and masterpieces that were precious overlooked for the art of the majority. Not fair.
Because, when in doubt, it's proof that hard work is what really will get you to the next level.
Hard work beats talent almost every time, and a combination of both is sure to be success. No matter if you are an artist or a doctor, these truths are are a major key. Sometimes we don't see the hard work that others put in to become successful at their craft, and at times it seems like an overnight success. Many people will tell you that it takes 10 years to become an "overnight success", so keep pushing.
Because not only do we need examples, our kids and their kids will need them, too.
Growing up, I often times lamented the shortage of women that looked like me in the entertainment industry. As time went on, more and more started to forge their own way, but it still feels like I have to look with a magnifying glass to find them. I am glad that our own children have access to more and more examples of success stories and can find someone to relate to, even if there are only a few.
Because there have been times where there was no such thing as inclusion and minority representation.
I can go into a long winded synopsis of the Civil Rights struggle, but I won't. "Google's your friend, bruh."--Jay Z
Because everyone needs to see diversity.
Everyone can benefit from seeing the stories of black and brown people. Imagine the towns and counties all around America (and the world, for that matter) that do not have a strong minority population, and their only experiences come from the television and through music. That is why it is imperative that we champion people of color that are making a positive impact in their industries and in the community, otherwise we will all be lumped together with some of the less-desirable characters we so often see on TV and in the media.
Because it helps to disprove the talking points of many and may even open their eyes.
The sad part is, some people still hold many beliefs that deem other races as inferior. Racism is a learned behavior and is not something you are born with or intrinsic to our nature as human beings. Perhaps more positive images can combat this sickeness of racism, regardless of whether or not the people around them are interested in what science has proven time and time again.
Because we have contributed long enough without acknowledgement.
Behind the scenes, people of color have worked tirelessly to advance others. Think of the film "Hidden Figures"; imagine how many other stories are out there that are similar. Let's not be hidden any longer.
Because it's the right thing to do.
This goes without saying. It's 2017, folks. We live in the internet age. We have smart phones glued to our hands. We have more access to information than any other generation before ours, so saying we can't find these people or there aren't enough stories is ridiculous. The tide has changed in some regard, and I hope this is the beginning of continued inclusion and support of minority causes, talent and creativity.
I'll leave you will the speech from the winners of Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight. Barry Jenkins, who penned the script along with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney summed it up better than I ever could.
Do you think there should be more inclusion and diversity at these award shows? Sound off in the comments!