Currently there is a lot of attention being paid to the lack of diversity in the Tim Burton directed Ms. Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. As a constant reader I have read and enjoyed these books for years and was not surprised at the lack of brown faces on the screen. There aren’t any people of color in the books. Why? One would have to ask the writer. The stories are fictional books about children who do everything from be invisible, float, eat through a second mouth in the back of their heads, to emit fire from their hands; surely with an imagination that can create these characters some of them could have easily been a shade of brown.
Even more astonishing; the novels are set in a fictional version of Wales. Where is Wales? The United Kingdom. Are there black people in the Wales, UK? Yup. For the record black and brown people are everywhere.
So if this is true and people write what they know then why is there such an abysmal lack of diversity in books, movies, and television. Why is there always only one black person or Asian person included in these settings? And then why are those people usually comic relief or the villain? (See there’s a black person. And some potentially brown people. Their villains.)
Simple: The people who get chosen to write movies- the directors, casting agents, financiers, decision makers, screen play writers-the authors who get chosen to have their novels first published and then made into movies; are usually white. Are usually male and they were usually raised in a home in a place with at best one black family or one Asian family-with one other family. Thus we end up with a world whose entertainment is written by people who don’t know how to write other because they don’t know other.
As long as white people continue to love segregation (Thirty years after the civil rights era, the United States remains a residentially segregated society in which blacks and whites still often inhabit vastly different neighborhoods.) the lack of diversity in their lives, the lives chosen so frequently to be portrayed in the media- will continue to exist. Thus the lack of diversity in media will continue to exist.
How do we fix this? Simple: We give publishing contracts and publish books written by POC. We hire POC directors,screenwriters, casting agents, financiers, and decision makers. Who will then hire POC talent. But As long as a small segment of the people continue to be in control the rest of us will always be left out.
Oh and if you’re wondering if I’ll watch the movie, I will. I’ll just wait until it comes out on Netflix. I’m the best silent protester I know. Don’t include me? Cool. But you won’t be getting my money.