NAMAC Conference Impressions/Promise to work on Diversity Manifesto!

Greetings. I had great time in Boston at the NAMAC Conference (National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture). I participated in an Open Session on making the media arts field and the foundations that support them more diverse, less sexist, racist and elitist. Tall order. We have spent the last 40 years since the Civil Rights Movement pushing Affirmative Action and African Americans still are at a disadvantage when it comes to health, education and employment. Women have made some strides, but they still face salary inequities and the glass ceiling. Not to mention the breakdown/segregation along ethnic, economic/class lines, sexual orientation, and disability (please send a better word for this). We have a lot of work to do! For a field that supposedly believes in diversity, the leadership ranks are overwhelmingly monolithic. How can we change this! Send me your comments here and let’s get to work on a manifesto! The plan is to 1) write it; then 2) get organizations and individuals to sign off on it; and 3) enact/follow through on the principles in practice. Let’s take this on together, one person at a time. Please leave a comment. Thanks.

5 thoughts on “NAMAC Conference Impressions/Promise to work on Diversity Manifesto!

  1. My advice to all non-Native organizations, agencies, scholars, etc., is to start by honoring the original inhabitants of the land upon which you live. The rest will follow, if that honoring is done with respect and good heart.

  2. As a self-aware black woman I am often very aware of when I am the sole person of color or female of color in the room. One of my colleagues who ran a public access media center lived for a time in Haiti and was aware of being the only white female in the room. She asked me if it’s something I thought about. I responded that I was always aware even if not actively thinking about it but most, if not all, of the other people in the room are totally unaware because for them nothing is different except me.

    I think when hiring or promotion decisions are made the same folks often don’t have diversity as a criteria. Why would they? It’s only apparent when someone else mentions it, so #1 would be to clarify what diversity really means. People misunderstand or may be thinking of different meanings.

  3. Thanks for posting and sharing this around Nadine. I think a manifesto is a great way to keep this need/concern in the forefront and help folks, myself included, work with our organizations to be inclusive on all fronts and levels.

  4. Thank you for all of your comments. I first want to address the idea of recognizing Native Peoples. As an Black American of African, European, and Native descent I am one of the hidden tribe, people who are Black American yet have grandparents and great-grandparents who are members of the Cherokee Nation who did remain on the east coast in Georgia and South Carolina. There is so much American history that we need to collectively recognize in our film narratives. If we recognize the diversity in our history then we will see how the homogenization of American culture is an injustice to the memory of all of our ancestors. Diversity is an important project to undertake if we want to be a truly great nation. Part of the issue is having European Americans become sensitive and aware. Most in positions to hire and promote may not see anything wrong with everyone in the room being white. As long as whiteness is valued as being the best, making workplaces and institutions diverse will be a struggle that people of color will have to fight largely on our own. What I want to do is find progressive people of all backgrounds who are interested in charting a new direction. Please continue to send in your anecdotes and ideas. Thank you.

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