• Carmen Milligan

And THIS is why it's important to have diversity

As a white woman of immense privilege, I have never had to search to see reflections of myself. I am on television. I am on book covers. I am in movies, plays, and being crowned as the ideal woman of my country. In Hollywood, it was people who looked like me playing the role of Chinese women, fiery Latinas, and Native Americans.

I was rewatching one of my favorite yearly events, Kennedy Center Honors, and was brought to tears (again) watching actress Gina Rodriguez introduce Rita Moreno as a recipient. Watch, and see what I mean:

So many of us do not know what this feels like. We have always been represented. We have always had heroes who looked like us. Even these trailblazers took it in the teeth. Hattie McDaniel and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table for two at the far wall of the room on the night she became the first African American to win an Oscar. The best supporting actress would not be won by another black woman for 50 years. Anna May Wong was the perfect actress to star in the big screen adaptation of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, but the lead was a white man, and an Asian couldn't have an onscreen kiss with a white man.

While we are getting, finally, more viable roles for people of color in Hollywood, there is still so far to go. Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics continue to fight to get where African Americans have gotten. No one is near white privilege.

Diversity in books is also getting better and better. More often, young homosexuals can see themselves living open and happy lives in the pages of a book. Accepted and loved, not stigmatized, and not making their homosexuality the focus of the storyline. Just treating it as normal.

It has been far too long coming, for citizens of a country where "all men are created equal".

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