It’s Cultural Diversity Day!
It’s May 21, which means we are celebrating cultural diversity today, as set up by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). But what does the term culture mean? Well, that can depend on who is using the term, but one commonly-used definition is:
“[Culture] is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [a human] as a member of society.”
In other words, culture is a people’s ‘way of life’ meaning HOW they do things in their group. This group may be as large as a continent, country or group of countries; a race, religion or creed; identity, gender or sexuality; or something else (ie. disability).
Some cultures are very large; others are niche; many are somewhere in the middle … And lots of them all intersect together somehow, since most of us are not just ‘one’ thing.
Diversity on B2W
A focus on diversity has long been part of the remit of this site. Though female characterisation is the primary focus (and the one most Bang2writers turn up for in terms of clicks!), you will also find articles here about other elements to do with this topic.
As mentioned in my book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV & Film, when we say ‘diversity’, the four topics people inevitably think of first are gender, race, LGBTQ and (sometimes) disability. But in real terms, if we look in the dictionary, ‘diversity’ simply means ‘variety’.
So if we’re talking about ‘cultural diversity’, then today we’re talking about all the different types of culture in the world, of every kind. With writing in mind then, writers have their own particular culture … AND represent many more within their writing!
So, I propose that today should be doubly meaningful for us.
Niche? No Thanks
In recent year, cultural diversity has taken centre-stage in storytelling. We not only see writers talking about it (as we had done for many years before now), we’ve actually seen stories make HUGE revenue and garner critical acclaim.
Even Hollywood has got in on the action: movies like Mad Max Fury Road and Black Panther have proved mass audiences are bored with the ‘same-old, same-old’. They want something more than the ‘usual’ – whatever that is. Diversity is no longer a niche interest.
Our choices and intentions
So, now is the time to keep that steamroller going. I still hear a lot of people talking about ‘diversity boxes’ being ticked, or disbelief that stories can even include diversity at all. When we’re literally making stuff up, this is very bizarre!
What’s more, marginalised creatives are still being sidelined in favour of the ‘same-old’ behind the scenes. Publishing is still mostly white; filmmaking is still mostly male – and that’s just for starters.
This is why we need to not only celebrate Cultural Diversity day today, we need to celebrate diversity – aka VARIETY! – every day, every time we consume something creative.
The B2W Diversity Pledge
We need to be intentionally inclusive in our choices and vote with our wallets … It’s the only way to get MORE VARIETY. So, do you pledge:
- To watch films/TV and read books with female leads (protagonists and antagonists)?
- To do the same for stories with female secondary characters?
- Plus stories with female-dominated story worlds?
- And to do the same as the above for stories featuring people of colour, LGBTQ people, disabled people, working class people and more?
- To look out for stories that are about ‘diversity issues’?
- As well as stories that aren’t just about ‘diversity issues’?
- To review and recommend diverse works to others?
BEHIND THE SCENES:
- To watch films & TV by female screenwriters?
- To watch films & TV by female directors?
- Plus female directors of photography?
- And credits for female editors?
- To read books (fiction and non-fiction) by people of colour?
- And do the same for books (fiction and non-fiction) by disabled authors?
- Plus the same by LGBTQ authors?
- And by working class authors?
- To follow the careers of marginalised creatives?
- To review and recommend work by marginalised creatives?
Make it count
There’s a lot here … and I get that people like to consume entertainment according to how they feel on any given day, too. It shouldn’t be a chore!
So, why not make a decision, such as:
- ‘I will watch 5 movies by female directors in the next year’? or
- ‘I will read 5 books by people of colour in the next year’ or
- ‘I will watch/read 5 works by disabled creatives in the next year’
for your own pledge? You’ll be surprised by how easy this is … and how your viewing/reading habits change to become more inclusive organically.