Representing the Underrepresented


Diversity | Diverse

These words have lost their gravitas. Watered down and plastered on flyers, corporate websites, and as buzzwords on job descriptions, resumes and cover letters. The original meaning of diversity held hope that people who lacked diversity would start accepting people who are diverse in their companies, communities, and economics endeavors. However, just as people in power do, the meaning was altered to comfort non-diverse individuals and make them feel better about their privileged in life and their lack of diversity. Conversely, this meant opportunities would still be given mostly to “all” or the majority (those that “fit”) even if they weren’t diverse at all.

Diversity lost its way.  People often confuse “ADVERSITY” with diversity. Everyone thinks they are diverse when in fact they are not. We all experience “ADVERSITY” or challenges that we must overcome, but that doesn’t make everyone diverse. Now “diversity” and “diverse” are clichés utilized to invoke a feeling of multiculturalsim although in most cases its solocultural.

“Inclusion” was added to diversity, in corporate circles, for marketing purposes – or at least that is my opinion. Add “inclusion” to “diversity” and you have a nice visual presentation, “Diversity & Inclusion” (D&I). “Inclusion” and “inclusive” are clever terms but they have never held hope of a nation or group of people like diversity once did.

Representation | Representative | Represent | Rep | Underrepresented

Yet, today the word “representation” is having its moment. You have been seeing those words your entire life but I am willing to bet they mean different things to you today than in years past.

And now “representation” and “represent” are the new stars in the call for call for individuals and corporations to acknowledge those that do not normally receive acknowledgement. By adding the word “under” before “represent” you are now unmistakably identifying a specific class people, by sex, race, socioeconomic status, and sexual identity. I love when a company or person states that their mission to target the underrepresented or underserved community; entitled and privileged people can’t take that away and make it their own, can they?

To represent the underrepresented means, you are providing representation; an example, inspiration and dare I say, hope. Representation matters – to us all, it motivates us, it gives us pride, and creates opportunities.

Representing the Underrepresented

The movie “Wonder Woman” was directed by a woman and obviously starred a woman as the titular character. It went on to gross over $700,000,000.00 worldwide and inspired millions of young women and girls around the world. “Hidden Figures” was a movie about the real-life black wonder women of NASA in 1960’s who were key members in helping the United States space program by calculating the projections to launch and land the astronauts. The movie went on the earn over $235,000,000.00 at the box office while only costing $25,000,000.00 to produce. It encouraged a nation of young women and girls to explore coding and computer science as careers.

And then there is the “Black Panther” movie starring an all-black cast of up-and-coming actors and actresses and it was directed by a black director. It has become one of Marvel’s biggest movies to date with over $1,100,000,000.00 at the box office. These movies captivated the imagination of the world because each of them highlighted underrepresented characters, people, and stories. Images that are seen often enough and stories that have never been told.

It’s about time Hollywood represented the underrepresented and it’s about time corporate America did the same. It’s hard to feel encouraged and represented when you look around and see no one that looks like you on the management team, in the executive offices, in the boardroom  – or on the top wealthiest people in the world list.