LEAKED: Banned Winchester U Diversity Video is a one minute and fifty second video released on Youtube as part of a promotional series for the 2014 comedic film Dear White People. Dear White People analyzes the racial relationships and inequality of a fictional ivy-league school called Winchester University. The supposed “leaked diversity video” was meant to give a quick look at the plot and issues discussed in the larger film.
This clip begins by showing an emblem of Winchester University in order to create the tone of an official college campus video tour. Quickly, the video begins to satirize university diversity programs by introducing Cody Moss the “V.P. of Admissions” who explains that Winchester University’s mission is to create an environment where students can interact with persons of color such as “two, three, even up to four Blacks on a regular basis.”
The “diversity video” ends with the perspective of Kejuan, an African-American student attending Winchester University. He illustrates that upon entering the university he was excited about the amount of diversity at the school, as the University website showed “a Black dude in like every picture.” The reality he faced was very different from his expectations. Instead of attending a university with a wide mix of races, he realized he was “that dude now…that Black dude they use to promote how diverse they are.”
What is tokenism? How does this video show Winchester University trying to appear “diverse” by making visible a single person or a few people from underrepresented backgrounds to show how diverse the campus is? Why are practices like this critiqued for being only symbolic or minimal effort, as opposed to being efforts at making real change towards equality? What might other attempts at diverse and equitable representation look like in the context of schools?
This “diversity video” shows how easily media can be manipulated to show a different image than what exists in reality. For example, Kejuan explained how pictures were used by Winchester University to seem diverse when in reality they were not. Can you think of any personal or recent news examples where media engages in this type of ‘false advertising’?