Report – The Last Word
George the poet has the last word at this year’s CMC, and guest blogger Kerin Kokot was gripped
- Lack of diversity is an issue that clearly needs to be addressed by professionals working across the media sectors
- Thankfully, lots of really smart people are doing exactly this. This year’s CMC brought many of them together to help the industry become more aware of the importance of being fully inclusive
I’m from Cape Town, and attending the CMC for the first time has been an overwhelming delight. The shoulders we rub against here belong to top, global leaders in the children’s media sectors. The knowledge shared in the workshops and sessions is current, relevant, stimulating. If you missed them, be sure to read the summary blog posts, and keep an eye out for the full session podcasts that should start appearing on the website over the coming days and weeks.
In between the formal sessions, during tea breaks, lunch dashes, and the various laid-back networking sessions arranged for newcomers, I eavesdropped to pick up the local buzz. Unsurprisingly, the buzz was Brexit (first biggie) and diversity – a theme that dominated the conference in general.
Another person eavesdropping like mad was George the Poet, although he of course was formally assigned to do this. George is a spoken word performer, writer and recording artist, who was invited to sum up his experience of the CMC in today’s final session. Interspersed with philosophical musings about class, family, education and the prison system, he reminded the audience of our professional responsibility: To listen, understand and really tackle the issue of representation in popular media.
As a black boy moving into teenage-hood, George found little to relate to in the media surrounding him, a clear sign that content creators weren’t interested in the experiences and stories of people from minority groups.
He referenced Changemaker Jess Thom, who realised that her disability was often more about others’ perceptions, which created frustrating blocks to her professional development.
George was also impressed by the work of Rebecca Atkinson, from ToyLikeMe, who creates toys that reflect and present characters with disability in a positive light.
He rounded off with a reference to Lighting Sprite Media’s Daniel Bays, who suggested that content creators can tap into a rich wealth of experiences from communities who have, until recently, been ignored or actively silenced.
George encouraged the audience to actively engage, to keep an open dialogue, with people different from themselves. His performance ended with a deserved standing ovation from the delegates. If you missed it, make sure you check out the podcast or the video when they are available.
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