I was in a lecture hall, only half listening to a lecture titled “Who Belongs Where?: Anti-Racism Outside Dominant Media Paradigms” when the lecturer referenced Whoopi Goldberg. It caught my attention.
“When I was nine years old Star Trek came on, I looked at it and I went screaming through the house. ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’
I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be. ”
I usually try to stay out of race debates.
I grew up in suburban Australia. I lived in a town where only 5% of the population speak a language other that English at home (17% lower than NSW average). And of those, most are European. I was white, my family was white, and all my friends were white. I have no place in talking about the challenges faced by racial minorities because I didn’t have to face them. I never saw them.
I felt that anything I tried to contribute risked further white-washing the issue.
So the quote struck me, but I dismissed the topic (plus attempting to facilitate a racial discussion, especially in an online forum like blogging, is risky).
But, less than 48 hours later, this video popped up in my YouTube subscription feed –
– and it made something click.
The question is no longer whether or not racial minorities face inequality. Because regardless of how progressively anti-racist the world becomes there are still numerous stories of racial inequality, discrimination and hatred.
The question is now where race is visible.
Television is a slowly dying medium. It is through alternative media sources that the next generations will see the representation of race. So by having places where people like Whoopi Goldberg, a famous activist and actor, can reach millions with a personal story about the need for and importance of racially diverse role models, we are creating a space to educate and accept.
The internet is creating those spaces. It is allowing boys and girls all around the world to find their Uhura, to find the person (through blogs, videos, forums…) who will make them realise that they can be anything they want to be.