Just in case you haven't heard, representation MATTERS. Whether that be in magazines, TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters, runways, ad campaigns, or even when flicking through the pages of history. Our whitewashed culture oftentimes only finds it appropriate to cast people of colour out of tokenism rather than truly embracing the messages of diversity, and to be quite frank, they're done with it.
A group of young South London activists, called Legally Black, have been in the spotlight recently after they took it upon themselves to recreate iconic movie and TV posters with black people in order to show how important it is to diversify casts. The images showed clearly how black narratives are less prominent in the UK's media, and how that needs to change.
The posters were made in Brixton by 18 year-old Liv Francis-Cornibert and her friends Shiden, Kofi and Bel, alongside Advocacy Academy, a programme created for youths who have experienced inequality. Talking to indy100, Liv said: “The representation of black people was a key issue of ours. It is meant to be satirical, some people took it seriously and some thought we were calling for the replacement of black actors.”
Of course, the campaign's purpose wasn't to replace all non-black actors, but focus more on black storylines and how they shouldn't be ignored by the British media. Despite being a local campaign, Legally Black's posters and subsequently their message holds its importance beyond the UK, and highlights tokenisation and lack of inclusivity around the world. One poster, recreating Channel 4 original Skins featured a 'token white guy', which is not only clever, but powerful for those who fail to recognise tokenism in TV and film when it comes to the casting of people of colour.
“They said we should just create our own things and shouldn't call on British media to create more black characters,' Liv continued. 'But we are calling for inclusivity, we have to capture the spectrum of black people – there are LGBT+ black people, disabled black people and other ethnic minorities. Things should be said for people of colour across the board. Writers and directors should have agency to do that.”
An incredible campaign, with an incredible group of young adults behind it. Just think what else they can achieve in five, ten, 15, 30 years time.