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Empowerment Dilemma: Diversity Talks and the Strain on Minorities

I'm not sure if you came across this discussion on Twitter or TikTok, or perhaps both, where people were talking about how the Diversity officer always seems to be a white person. Let's talk about it!

Empowerment Dilemma: Diversity Talks and the Strain on Minorities
Empowerment Dilemma: Diversity Talks and the Strain on Minorities

The main point being made was that someone who hasn't experienced racial injustice might not be the most suitable candidate for the position. On the other hand, Taika Waititi expressed it well when he said, "You broke it - you fix it." This means that it shouldn't be the responsibility of people of color to repair a broken system that resulted from European colonization and white supremacy.

So, whose responsibility is it then? In my opinion, it is everyone's duty to fix our deeply flawed society. While Hollywood can attempt to address this by ensuring diverse representation in every production, I'm afraid they might be missing the core issue.

I agree with Waititi about the importance of occasionally telling stories that are not necessarily diversity-friendly. Not every story needs to include every single person. However, companies, including film production companies, are somewhat different. Despite one's abilities and talents, succeeding can still be challenging when strong biases are at play in the workplace.

Having diversity, even if it's not immediately apparent, is more than just a gimmick. Hollywood writers cater to diverse audiences, but perspective is crucial. Diversity brings new perspectives, questions the status quo, and challenges existing norms. By implementing policies that encourage a diverse workplace, it will also encourage the telling of new stories. Nothing happens by chance. The more different people work together, both on and off-screen, the more accustomed we will become to it.

Each of us has a unique story, and our perspectives are equally deserving of being heard and challenged when necessary. Perhaps it won't always make sense to have an ambassador for every color and disability, or perhaps it will. It's up to each organization to decide.

During my trip to Kenya in 2010, I brought a lot of baby clothes to donate. I met a community leader who was assisting children with disabilities in accessing basic needs, and I visited the mothers in a small village. As I listened to their stories, I was shocked to learn that their disabled children rarely left their homes because they were not accepted in public spaces, which were not designed to accommodate them. However, the primary factor behind this was shame—the shame associated with being the parent of a child who deviated from societal norms. It saddened me to think that these children were leading limited lives in fear.

However, later on, I realized that even in France, we don't often see many people with disabilities in public spaces. If it weren't for laws that require companies to have a certain percentage of employees with disabilities, many of them would struggle to find employment. People often react with annoyance and aggression when faced with minor inconveniences related to their able-bodied lifestyle in the fast-paced city life. A few weeks ago, my disable neighbor fell from her bed, and instead of showing empathy, the firefighters belittled and scolded her for falling.

I'm not convinced that the HR department is the best choice for housing a diversity officer. HR works for the bosses and managers, focusing on the company’s needs rather than those of the rest of the employees. It would be more beneficial to have a dedicated department responsible for ensuring that the company is diverse, accessible, and inclusive. Diversity extends beyond the color of our skin. People with disabilities deserve to have their space, both literally and figuratively, with the necessary accommodations. The LGBTQ+ community also deserved to feel safe being themselves at work and comfortable to share their point of views.

I share Waititi's perspective that minorities should not be solely responsible for the ongoing task of repairing a flawed system. However, it is crucial to provide support and increase visibility for minorities. This way, we can authentically portray the true diversity of the human experience. Without investing in effective diversity policies or enacting laws that promote diversity, it cannot simply materialize on its own. Minorities play an important role by speaking up and getting their voice heard.



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