For decades, the disparities in hiring practices when hiring white people vs Black people (and people of color) have been discussed and ignored. Instances such as throwing out a resume just because of the “ethnic” looking name, or offering the position to the less qualified applicant because they aren’t Black is something that happens in every industry- constantly.
The year 2020 came in and turned our lives completely upside down. On top of a global pandemic, the racial tension in America peaked as numerous Black Men and Women were killed at the hands of the police- causing global protests and unrest.
Companies, big-named brands, and various celebrities began speaking out against the systemic injustices that plague (and have plagued for centuries) the Black Community (and communities of people of color). Injustices and racial discrimination incidents in various industries are being brought to light causing industry leaders and influencers to take a step back and truly evaluate their role in the perpetuation of racism.
We’ve seen this extremely prevalent in the film industry. Countless agents and execs have come forward encouraging Black creators to submit their work to them. Flocks of Black creators flooded these posts, so much so that submissions had to be closed because of the volume of content received.
In addition to agents and execs asking for content, there has been an uptick in producers specifically asking for Black film industry talent for jobs like editing and writing. Facebook groups for those who work in the film industry have been inundated with these types of asks causing both excitement and angst within the groups.*
While opportunities like these can be exciting for Black creators, especially because we’ve been shut out and blackballed from the industry for decades, this surge of people looking for creators just because they're Black poses a problem.
The push for “diversity” causes the issue of tokenism to become prevalent in organizations in all industries. Hiring Black people (and people of color) becomes a thing to “check off the list” to show face and claim that an organization is progressive, and this is what is happening in the film industry right now.
In order to show face and claim progression in the name of civil rights and equality, execs are seeking Black talent to check off the diversity box to be able to say “see, we’re not racist”, all while avoiding the issue of why this is needed in the first place.
While opportunities are great, I don’t want to be considered for a position- or hired- just because I’m Black. Hire me because I’m better than all the candidates who applied- which in most cases, I am.
Hire me because I bring something to the table that’s invaluable. Hire me because my talent speaks volumes. Hire me because my name proceeds me before I enter the room, and let the fact that I am Black and bring the unique perspective of my culture with me be the bonus cherry on top that you weren’t expecting.
The industry will not change unless we get to the root of the problem- until we dig deep and unravel what caused the systemic disparities in the industry in the first place. It’s going to take more than performative acts of “activism”, in the form of no longer ignoring Black creators, to truly make a difference in the industry.
Let’s really do the work.
*Read more about the racists response to the ask for Black talent here: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2020-06-17/black-film-editor-hollywood-racism-editors-guild-black-lives-matter