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I often think of myself as progressive when it comes to racism and

inclusivity amongst the many races in America. In thinking this, I also


tend to experience high levels of anger when it comes to the
conservative peers from high school I see on Facebook wearing shirts
that read All Lives Matter. I am loud and proud in my stance with
people of color, immigrants, etc and sometimes view myself as too
judgmental and harsh in responding to more right-winged arguments in
this topic of discussion. That being said, I have taken an interest in the
lack of diversity amongst TV casts, movies, and more visual areas of
media, yet had never had the chance to think about how black
representation lacks throughout the music industry. Through watching
Twenty Feet From Stardom this week in class and reading the Hooks
reading, I found myself viewing black representation as more
displeasing than usual.
In the Hooks reading, the author approaches the idea of ethnicity as a
spice to white culture. It is mentioned that we, white people, desire
the Other because it provides an enhancement to the blank landscape
of whiteness. This same idea was illustrated throughout the film in
class and I was shocked to nod my head in agreement with the idea
that the dark Other was represented through black people who provide
a sound of harmony.
We, as white people, take ownership of the brilliance in background
singing and pretend like the sound is what weve created, an example
of cultural appropriation, and completely disregard the
acknowledgment of the talented colored singers who make the music
so extraordinary. Because there is such a lack of recognition for colored
background singers, yet so many colored background singers, I
thought about this as an example of cultural hegemony: not just
cultural appropriation. It is almost as if producers were taking pride in
having a black voice, something that brought the sound of gospel, as
part of their piece and didnt feel the need to give credit where credit
was due. I feel like this idea is still widely present today, whether it be
in music, TV, or film.
For example, even as it becomes more popular to be inclusive and
ethnically diverse amongst casts and characters of movies (and though
we try to include diversity), we seem to be doing it incorrectly. When
it comes to Disney movies, its obvious that there is a lack of
appropriate black representation. Even when knowing of this lack,
producers still choose to cast black voice actors as white cartoon
characters. Paying a colored person to voice a character is enough,
right? We dont have to actually make their character one of African
American descent. We think that because we have one black princess,
we dont have to have any more and we can continue to make the
other 90% of princesses white one is black, thats enough to
illustrate our inclusivity as a company, right?

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