Anonymous asked:

Why is there such a lack of middle-eastern representation?

We’re gonna let Good Look panelist, Yassir Lester answer this one: 

"Well, there is a short answer, and there’s a long answer. Let’s start with the long one.

I myself am Middle Eastern mixed. My mother is a black woman and my father a Palestinian man. I cannot pretend that I fully understand the middle eastern experience in America because I was not raised by my father, nor have I had any contact with him or his side of the family since birth. But what I can tell you is that after 9/11, people started paying attention to my first name a lot more than before.

Middle Eastern people in media, as all minorities, suffer from not only a shortage of representation in media, but an incorrect one. It directly correlates to who is doing the projection of images and creation of characters on your favorite shows and movies. Sadly, most of these people have rarely if ever come into contact with a Middle Eastern person. We are still very much a news driven country; the stuff we see on the news greatly impacts our views whether we admit it or not. And if you’re a writer and don’t know anyone from Saudi Arabia, your chances of creating a slanted personification or caricature of what you “think” a Middle Eastern person is like, or an Asian family, or mid-twenties black girl skyrocket, especially if you’re lazy.

No one does the research either. Middle Eastern characters become secondary because at the end of the day, they’re either playing the comic relief or the threat. What’s the point of creating a fully fleshed out character if they’re only appearing in one scene as the owner of a restaurant or a terrorist?

Lastly, the percentage of Middle Eastern and minority writers/creators working in television and film is extraordinarily low. People write what they know, and if they’re not of Middle Eastern descent, the chances of them taking a risk and trying to tell the story of a culture they don’t understand becomes close to zero. If no one like you is writing your story, you can’t expect it to be told.

We live in an era where anyone can create something artistic and throw it online in any capacity, and if the shortage of relatable material is something that bothers you, I want nothing more than for you to go out and make it yourself. Make it YOU. Though it may not be seen by millions, it encourages more like minded and ethnically similar people to do the same, reshaping not only the image of the people portrayed, but also the dialogue surrounding them and gives a true and authentic glimpse into the experience of what it’s like to be Middle Eastern. People complain that the system is broken, and while that may be true, you can easily get involved to try and fix it. 

The short answer is well, you haven’t written the script, made the music, taken the photos, or created the story that can flip everything on its head and make people see that the Middle Eastern experience is so much more than the war shown on TV, or threatening young men, or veiled young women. You haven’t done that, yet. :)”

To learn more on what you can do to take action against racial bias, go here

Happyland’s Bianca Santos on experiencing bias, diversity in TV

Catch Bianca as “Lucy Velez” in Happyland Tuesdays on MTV at 11/10c and head to lookdifferent.org for more on what you can do about bias! 

LD: Have you ever experienced bias based on your race or gender? If so, how did you deal with it? 

BS: ”Of course I have experienced some type of bias being a girl and also being Latina. I think a lot of it comes from some people being uneducated. People don’t want to take the time to learn about things outside of themselves and that’s when a bias is not just created, but perpetuated. The only way to deal with it is through education. It’s every individual’s responsibility to set facts straight to end the stereotyping bias.”

LD: As a Latina woman, how does it feel to be playing one of the lead roles on Happyland? 

BS: “It feels amazing! Growing up I had no TV or film personality I could relate to. I grew up thinking, “I’m not blonde so I must not be pretty.” I felt like there was this unspoken rule about the constructs of beauty and I was not in that bubble, I felt very much outside of it. Now I’m proud to represent not just Latinos, but anyone that has felt on the fringe of society’s acceptance.” 

LD: How do you feel about the amount of diversity currently on television? What do you hope your role will inspire? 

BS: ”I believe we are taking steps towards more diversity on television but there is still room for improvement. I hope my role as Lucy Velez on Happyland gives others hope that they too can be a lead on a show and not have the color of their skin be a factor.”

LD: Before being cast in Happyland, what types of characters/acting roles did you play? Did you ever feel pressure to play racially stereotypical roles?

BS: ”When I played Lexi on “The Fosters” on ABC Family, I knew they had it right. I played a girl that happened to be Hispanic but was a regular character. The only twist was she was undocumented BUT even so, the character was never a stereotype. We wanted Lexi and her family to seem as American as possible.  Sometimes stereotypical roles do come up, and I think, what about portraying the ‘North Hollywood Hipsters’ those chicks are so cool, they have the best style.  What I’m trying to say is that there are types of people and Latinos in LA that are not being showcased.”  

LD: Would you say your character on Happyland is breaking stereotypes in any way?

BS: ”I feel the best way to break a stereotype is by showing something in a universal way.  When you look at Lucy Velez, you don’t have to think of her as the Latina on the show,  she’s just the protagonist that anyone anywhere can relate to. She doesn’t have stereotypical characteristics that only Latinas would have. Some dialogue might embrace the character’s background, but for the most part she is just like any other American girl, which I feel makes her universal and relatable.”

LD: What advice would you give someone who’s dealing with bias based on their race or gender?

BS: ”I would tell them to fight for what they believe in. Educate others and pave your own way because we are making progress and one day we’ll get there.”

Anonymous asked:

Honestly I'm totally loving what y'all are doing to try and stop prejudice and to raise awareness of it. It's really cool seeing such a huge company that is so relevant to teenagers do something about race and gender and orientation and doing it correctly and respectfully. Love y'all!!!

Thank you! <3 <3