Last week I was in Los Angeles having an early dinner at a sidewalk cafe with a friend of mine. A middle-aged couple visiting from New Jersey sat next to us and we started chatting. They asked me where I lived and I explained my family and I moved to Portland, OR in 2012. The man started talking about the Trailblazers, and then explained the Trailblazers were a basketball team in a way that you explain something to a child.
I’m not a child, at least I haven’t been in a long time and gave no indication I DIDN’T know what a Trailblazer is.
I’m totes blonde though, so it’s possible he would think I wasn’t knowledgeable about such things. Or maybe this guy isn’t around a lot of women who are sportsball fans. Maybe in his default base of experience, women don’t know about sports and that’s what culture has taught him. Malicious intent? Probably not.
There was a point in time in my life I wouldn’t have noticed some random dude making a stereotypical sexist assumption about me. It would have rolled right off my back. But today I notice, and I’m not the only one.
Veteran television writer Kay Reindl, who I had the lovely pleasure of meeting in person recently, wrote a blog post yesterday regarding the mostly non-diverse cast in the upcoming J.J. Abrams “Star Wars” film. She makes a similar point in regards to diversity in popular entertainment and whether the lack of it is intentional.
“The truth is far more banal: They just don’t think about it. It doesn’t enter the conversation. The default is White Male. While it’s getting better in TV, it’s not quite there yet. That’s still a default, and it’s not just the writers doing it. It’s the studios, the networks and the advertisers. It isn’t malicious. It’s just the status quo. So the way to deal with it isn’t to attack filmmakers and accuse them of doing this on purpose. It’s to enlighten them.”
We need to pay attention, take notice and speak up so it can enlighten everyone who might be unaware there’s a problem that requires change. And more Wonder Woman. I can’t stress that point enough.
But more people ARE noticing. And more people ARE speaking up.
A few weeks ago the very brilliant minds of Rachael Edidin, Arturo Garcia, and Elle Collins started the We Are Comics Tumblr, where people around the world submit a picture and talk about their relationship with comics. The goal is to enlighten us all on the vast diversity currently existing in every aspect of the comics medium.
“We are comics: creators, publishers, retailers, readers; professionals and fans. And we are a lot more diverse than you might think. We Are Comics is a campaign to show — and celebrate — the faces of our community, our industry, and our culture; to promote the visibility of marginalized members of our population; and to stand in solidarity against harassment and abuse.”
And people ARE starting to take action.
Here at CBR, instead of accepting the sometimes vicious and toxic nature of the comment thread, Jonah Weiland decided to fundamentally change the CBR forums by starting over and creating a zero tolerance policy against “intimidation or abuse of all members of the community, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identification.” Proving that actions CAN be made to promote change for the better.
Prejudice is everywhere and it’s up to all of us to help stop it. We seem to be heading down the right track. I hope we can keep it up.
Cause the only thing anyone should mistakenly assume about me based on my appearance is that I’m in my late twenties.