You say diversity. I say disaster! Will anything change?

Diversity, diversity, diversity! The talk on everyone’s lips.

diversity

You say diversity, I say disaster. We’ve heard it all before! Time and time again. Will things really be different this time?

By definition the term “diverse” means:
• Showing a great deal of variety
• Something very different
• Various kinds or forms
Therefore, “diversity” is a range of different things. Variety. Differences. Multiformity. Uniqueness.

If the aim is to be more diverse and the claim is to support diversity, then that means, in action, the industry is on a mission (supposedly) to “diversify.” Right?

Wrong. (Abort mission!)

Out of curiosity and to prove the point I’m about to make, I looked up the definition of “diversify” apparently it means to:
• Make or become more diverse or varied
• Enlarge or vary its range of products or field of operation

If the oxford dictionary is correct then by definition we have already failed.

Why? Because by definition we are tackling the whole issue in completely the wrong way.

Somebody please explain to me how trying to improve diversity with a one size fits all approach is ever going to achieve anything substantial if by definition this is the wrong attitude to even attempt to deal with “diversity?” The approach currently being used by the industry at large is the complete opposite to the nature of the issue itself.

Let’s look at what we’re dealing with here, just so I’m being completely clear to anyone reading. To my knowledge, “Diversity” (in the context of Film & TV) refers to (in alphabetical order):
• BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic)
• Disabled people
• LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)
• Religion & Culture
• Women in the workforce
The above list does indeed reflect the definition of “diverse” by:
• Showing a great deal of variety
• Something very different
• Various kinds or forms (or in this case groups or people)
However, the industry seems to have blurred the lines and act as if they are all the same, one issue, one solution. Maybe I’m crazy but surely this isn’t the most effective way to deal with it?

Surely I can’t be the only one that thinks pretending race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion and culture are all the same thing and that trying to deal with them all in the same way is a bad, ineffective, unproductive idea?

I think it’s about time we all accept the true meaning of diversity once and for all and acknowledge the fact that all of these areas need individual attention and nurturing. We should embrace this as a good thing. We should see it as a way to inspire creativity, a way to celebrate our differences, our uniqueness. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? And not too mention far less boring.

Honestly, I have no hope for improvement or success until the industry accepts this point. Until then, it’s a waste of time, energy, funding and whatever else is being thrown and tackling this issue. That also includes all of these schemes! What is the point of them?

Why go and find all these diverse and different people only to get them to do the exact same things we’ve always done? Why invite them in, then get them to leave all their different and diverse talents, knowledge, experiences and creative contributions at home? WHAT IS THE POINT? So I can flick from channel to channel to see SAME. SAME. SAME. SAME. Yawn. I just don’t get it. They should be allowed and encouraged to bring their uniqueness to the table.

I’m not an idealist, nor am I naïve or blind to the world and its’ prejudices. I’m very aware of how the world works and humanity’s natural fear of the unknown. But, as a creative, I thought this was the one place where everyone was welcome. I thought art and creativity could transcend issues of race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion or culture.

Maybe I thought wrong? Maybe I need to let go of this hope and wake up to reality?

Why do I even care so much about diversity? Why is it important?

Cause guess what guys, this world we live in by nature, by definition, is DIVERSE. And why else? Because British TV can be quite BORING! 90% of my viewing time (and yours too probably) is spent watching content produced in the USA. And unsurprisingly, they are doing a lot better at dealing with this issue than we are. Is it merely a coincidence that their content (drama in particular) is miles better than ours? I think not.

The whole reason I wanted to be a part of this industry is because Film and Television can teach you about what life is like for other people, show you life beyond your own experiences and understanding, it gives you an insight into situations, people or places that you might not know about or ever be lucky (or unlucky) enough to ever experience yourself. It allows us to see why certain people are the way they are.

The medium is a great way to entertain, inform, educate and inspire each other, as well as providing the opportunity to dispel the “fear of the unknown” by revealing it openly and honestly on screen. I truly believe the medium is a way to bring people together from all walks of life, everyone has a story to tell, a unique experience to share. We are all different and there is beauty in our individuality and I would love for that to be shared and practiced much more here in the UK.

This goes far beyond what’s fair or what’s right. What I really care about is good content. A variety of content, showing a variety of different experiences and people, telling a variety of different stories, making me feel a variety of different emotions. Surely this is what entertainment is all about. Surely this would make more interesting viewing?

It seems to me the industry is missing the point. So I’m going to be blunt. Reggie Yates presenting something or Adelayo Adedayo in Some Girls is not what I mean by diverse. Show me a story I haven’t seen before. Show me a story you haven’t seen before! Please. Show me life in the UK as it really is. Dare I say it again? Show me something…diverse!

The current approach (whatever that even is), seems pretty ineffective. If anyone genuinely wanted to see a difference they wouldn’t use a one size fits all approach. No it’s not simple and no it won’t be easy, we all know that but please, let’s just stop with all this pretence. Stop pretending diversity is at the top of the agenda. It’s not. Because who really cares enough to do things differently, to rock the boat, to actually affect change? Who really wants to deal with this complex issue? Who’s willing to do what’s difficult?

Everyone claims to have plans in place but I still don’t think they will make much of a difference? Hopefully when the new year comes there will be none of this stalling business, the time to act is NOW, no more waiting, please!

This isn’t about blame. It’s about change. There’s a stage in everyone’s life where we have a light bulb moment, which prompts us to make our next move. Let this be your light bulb, time to make your next move, time to make a change.

I would love nothing more for this rant to be a big waste of time, hopefully I will have to eat my words. Hopefully I will hold my hands up and say I was wrong, things are different this time. I’m sure I will find out soon enough…

-Leian John-Baptiste


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@HouseofBlackUK: Hi @MichaelBuffong if possible could you follow back so I can send you a direct message?