In Febuary 2015, Upworthy published a video that brought together actors of color to describe their experiences at auditions for the U.S. entertainment industry. The actors recount being told by casting directors to act in a stereotypical fashion and being typecasted based on their race and ethnicity. The clip uses personal stories to challenge accusations that the film industry is too Eurocentric and therefore, leaves few roles for actors of color to audition for. The clip cites various studies supporting the use of diverse casts stating that nearly 70% of casting calls prefer white actors, that films with relatively diverse casts excel at the box office and in returns on investment, and that television shows reflecting the nation’s diversity excel in ratings. So with potential for better ratings and better returns, the video asks viewers, “What’s the new excuse?” Upworthy is a website for viral content that promotes progressive stories tackling political and social issues.
In this episode of America’s Next Top Model, Jay Manuel brings the models to a downtown Los Angeles rooftop to shoot a campaign for the retail shoe giant, Payless. To bring what he describes as an “urban edge” to the shoot, Jay Manuel invites a crew of “krumpers” to dance with the models. Although the crew in question is wearing clown makeup, and is actually perhaps the most famous group of clowners in the world, Jay repeatedly refers to the dancers as “krumpers.” When Jay is not waxing eloquent about Payless shoes or judging whether or not the models look enough like “sex kittens,” he can also be heard invoking race and class in a very literal manner.
In this video, we meet Ramiro Gomez, an artist working in Los Angeles. Ramiro shares his story of growing up with parents who immigrated from Mexico. While he had always wanted to pursue art, he first took a job providing in-home childcare in the Hollywood Hills. He explains that his parents had also worked in the domestic service industry, and they were unhappy that Ramiro was following the same path. However, Ramiro says this work inspired him; through his art, he explored the experiences of LA’s many immigrant domestic service workers. He now creates art pieces, including life size portraits inserted into public space, that make visible the labor that goes into maintaining the homes and gardens of Los Angeles. He explains that he hopes his art will make those who see it think about and discuss the contribution of these workers, the challenges they face including wage theft, and the sacrifices they make for young people in his generation.
This video features the voices of a diverse group of 12-year-olds from West Side Collaborative Middle School in New York City talking about their experiences with race, racial identity, and racism. The featured students speak about their backgrounds, families, experiences with discrimination and stereotyping, and the confusion, fears, anxieties, and racial injustices they face in their everyday lives. The video is part of a multimedia project called Being 12: The Year Everything Changes, produced by pubic radio station WNYC.
On February 6th, 2016, during Black History Month and one day before her Super Bowl halftime show performance, Beyoncé dropped the song and video for “Formation” on her YouTube channel and on Tidal, Jay-Z’s streaming service. The song's lyrics are characterized by Beyoncé reframing stereotypes traditionally used in a derogatory way towards African-Americans into empowering statements which celebrate Blackness. For instance, she states: