Report: CMC Keynote Panel: Black Lives Matter

Posted on: Monday 06 July 2020 9:02pm by Cate Zerega

Takeaways 

  • Diversity in gatekeeping will help decision makers understand and produce authentic, full and complete stories in digital as well as broadcast. 
  • Discomfort with talking about race is long held, but this has shifted with the death of George Floyd. We owe it to young people now and in the future to talk about it openly and instigate change. 
  • Teams are more effective when they are diverse. It is important to speak up and offer possible solutions, even when you feel like you’re not the most important person in the room.

Sue Nott, CMC’s Advisory Group Chair, welcomed delegates to CMC 2020 and introduced CMC Changemaker Nandi Bushell on her drums. Nandi has been raising awareness for Black Lives Matter by making videos because music is a powerful medium that helps her promote the message of treating everyone equally. 

Moderator Sonita Alleyne OBE began by asking her panelists about the implications of BLM for the children’s media industry. 

  • BBC’s Head of Creative Diversity, Miranda Wayland, has experienced a cultural shift in the embrace of difference. 
  • Jacqueline Baker, co-founder of the BAME TV Task Force, spoke about the importance of gatekeepers. When the gatekeepers reflect all the communities of the UK, that allows the production of authentic voices in media. 
  • Adam Campbell of Azoomee has experienced an awakening among his colleagues to racism and oppression as a catalyst for change. 
  • Professor and consultant Kevin Clark finds the impact of racism coupled with systems of privilege is in front of the industry and must be dealt with. 
  • NUS President Larissa Kennedy has seen children and young people represented as a positive force for change. 

A number of issues were identified in kids’ media with regard to representation. 

  • Lack of diversity in the teams that create experiences for children leads to stories that do not capture the nuance of children’s experience.
  • Diversity is represented in children’s media but the breadth of experience within communities is not seen. Depth of diversity is particularly important for children’s content as a way to model different lived experiences.
  • Kevin Clark spoke to the adultification of Black children in children’s media, which signals that these kids are not as innocent as other kids. BBC in particular is mindful of not making adults out of children too soon. Larissa Kennedy agreed with the problems of representation of young Black girls in particular, which sets a complicated expectation for them to navigate. 
  • Jacqueline Baker would like to see children’s media move beyond the strong Black woman trope to better allow Black children to be vulnerable and have the full spectrum of emotions that any other racial group would have. 
  • Larissa Kennedy noted that white mediocrity is incorporated into both education and media, so creating space for both Black excellence and Black mediocrity helps children to access their full range of emotions. A change in media where a Black girl is able to see herself fully sounds like a small thing but would have a big impact. 
  • Adam Campbell has started to see more diverse portrayals in children’s media where a Black child can be a scientist or go on a fairytale adventure, but gaming is behind in making progress on diversity. 

Jacqueline Baker shared her sense of optimism for the future based on the open letter sent by the BAME TV Task Force to broadcasters and the meetings that ensued.  You can see the full text of the letter here. And this is a link to sign the letter. There is a genuine willingness to take action immediately and implement simple, key changes to promote diversity.

The panel were asked what the advantages of creating more inclusive media for children were. 

  • Adam Campbell felt it was important to give Black kids the confidence to become whatever they want. He also noted that inclusivity can help the industry plug skills gaps. Inclusivity also helps media makers find new markets. 
  • Kevin Clark hopes to see Black-owned and operated networks that can drive the creation of diverse content by and for Black audiences.
  • Jacqueline Baker emphasized the importance for Black stories to be seen in the mainstream, not only as niche content. After all, everyone pays the licence fee so they should be seen. 
  • Miranda Wayland committed to mentoring a person for a six month period as a way to help implement change.

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Cate Zerega

About the author

Cate Zerega

Freelance Production Coordinator

Cate has worked as a nanny, a talent agent, in casting & production. Cate’s resume means she no longer fears anything and has sunblock & headshots always about. She completed an MA in the screen industries in 2018 & works passionately to promoting female filmmakers. Read more