Equity and Inclusion in Entertainment

Dr. Naeemah Clark

Dr. Naeemah Clark

Dr. Naeemah Clark, an Elon University professor, came to the Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus to bring awareness to the Equity and Inclusion that we see in the entertainment industry, or rather, the lack of these qualities.

Her presentation began with an anecdote about her fascination with television at an early age. She idolized the beautiful women on the screen but recognized that there were very few that looked like her.

As a black woman in a “Charlie’s Angels” and “Cher” kind of world, she struggled to find beautiful, admirable women to whom she could relate. And although many essential changes have been made to expand representation in the modern entertainment industry, Dr. Clark believes that these are minor adjustments to a more significant problem.

Dr. Clark encouraged us to look at the media’s discrepancies in representation through a critical lens and recognize the link between cultural expression and daily life.

One major topic of discussion in the presentation was the representation of black women on T.V. in distinguishable tropes that connected them to negative qualities and flaws. Dr. Clark attributed this common misrepresentation of black women to inequities in television production and the easily digestible character models that we see repeatedly.

Dr. Clark believes that it is challenging for black women in film to break out of these tropes because it is hard to challenge the commercial appeal of these characters in both the national and international entertainment industry.

When challenged with the question “What can we do?” Dr. Clark believes that the answer lies within creating a community that prioritizes intercultural competence and provides an environment of DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiatives. She thinks these tools develop skills, promote empathy, change attitudes, and encourage appropriate behaviors that help us reach intercultural competence and equitable outcomes.

As a campus that celebrates diversity and inclusion, it is of the utmost importance that we continue to prioritize and seek the voices of people such as Dr. Clark. They demonstrate a dedication to engaging in discussing media representation for all.