Black Representation By. Samantha C.

 

Growing up as a black girl, I watched shows mostly featuring white actors and actresses. Magazines I looked at featured mostly white models. And most pop-stars were white as well. There was some black representation in the media as I was growing up, but not much. It's weird to imagine what it was like for black generations before me growing up with little to no one who represented their race in the 'spotlight'. The definition of representation is "the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone or the state of being represented." Representation is so important to me. For so long beauty standards in the media and else where have been mostly Eurocentric. Beauty has been represented by features mostly present on white individuals. When I was younger if movies had black people in them they were usually 1) the angry black women 2)slaves and/or servants or 3)the "token" black friend with no real character development (every movie has one). It's almost as if people forget how truly versatile black women and men are. How many different shades we come in and how many different backgrounds we come from. We are all so different and that's why representation matters the most. Especially for young black kids with dreams of becoming actors, singers and even businessmen and women only to have their dreams crushed by finding out that 75% of Hollywood roles go to white actors and that black men make (about)80¢ to every white mans dollar. And it doesn't stop there, white women make 78¢ to every white mans dollar while a black women only makes 64¢ to the white mans dollar. Seeing statistics like these as a black child can be extremely discouraging, but seeing people like you, who face the same discriminations that you face doing big things like starring in movies and owning their own businesses can be magical. It teaches them that they too can be successful despite racial prejudices. That's why my favorite moments in black history have been the moments where black people have represented us in a positive and uplifting way. In honor of Black History Month, here are my top 10 favorite moments of black representation (in the last few years.) 1) Of course at number one is Barack Obama, the first African American president in American history. This was monumental in the black community, and will truly go down in history. 2) John Boyega, the first black storm trooper in Star Wars history. ICONIC! 3) Black Marty in Grease Live played by Keke Palmer, which was awesome because there where no POC in the original Grease. 4) All black cast and crew of The Wizard Of Oz Live. An amazing production filled with amazingly talented black singers, actors and dancers. 5) The movie Home, which was the first animated movie to feature a black character as the lead. 6) Rihanna being the first black women to be the face of a Dior campaign. 7) Maria Borges, the first Victoria Secret model to debut natural hair on the runway. 8) Blackish, a show about a modern day black family that lives in the suburbs. It's one of my favorites because it's not the 'typical' black family. It shatters stereotypes while also being relatable, funny and educational. 9) Zendaya in K.C. Undercover, one of Disney's most recent shows featuring a black lead. 10) Amandla Stenberg educating everyone on cultural appropriation, not afraid of being labeled the 'angry black women' and giving young black girls the courage and platform to speak up about racial issues as well. These are just a few of my favorites among many, many others. And I hope representation of the black community in the media continues to flourish and give us the opportunities we deserve.