I am, but I’m not…

Identities are rich, multiple, and varied. Media representations, however, often try to force identity into limited – and offensive – stereotypes that lump together entire groups based on superficial and biased assumptions. 

Using one of the BuzzFeed videos such as this or this as inspiration (many others can be found on CMP), make a personal video that celebrates your identity as a source of pride, connection, and individuality, and pushes back against stereotypes that misrepresent or box in your identity.

Step 1: Reflect & Plan

As you approach this project remember that it is not about researching negative stereotypes or representing them in your video. The aim is to celebrate what you love about your identity, in order to challenge and break stereotypes.

  • Reflecting on what you’ve learned so far, start by making a list of some of the social identities that apply to you. You can consult this identity wheel to help you think about various categories of identity.
  • Pick an element of your identity to focus on for this project.

Note: You may choose to focus on one aspect of identity (for example, your religion), or you can focus on the intersection of a couple of identity categories (for example, race and gender)

  • Take a few minutes to put together a list or free-write about how you see yourself and want to be seen by others. Consider questions such as:
    • What parts of this identity do you take most joy or pride in?
    • What do you wish people knew about this aspect of your identity?
    • What might surprise people about how you relate to this part of your identity?
    • Are there things about this part of you that are often ignored or unseen that you would like to highlight?
    • How do you want to continue to grow? Who do you want to become?
  • Now take a few minutes to reflect and write about how stereotypes have affected you. How can they limit people’s perceptions or expectations of you, or even affect how you see yourself?

Reflecting on your responses, think about what you want to accomplish with this video. Consider the following:

  • Message
    • What is the main takeaway I want people to have from this video?
    • What do I want people to know about my identity that stereotypes would miss or ignore?
  • Audience
    • Who do I imagine is watching this video?
    • Who do I want to speak to most in this video?

Using the Buzzfeed “I am, but I’m not” videos as a model, edit together your video so that it follows this structure:

Part 1: I am… Introduce the video by highlighting the identity you will be focusing on.

Part 2: But I’m not…Identify stereotypes that limit people’s assumptions and expectations about you.

Part 3: I am also…. I will…In this section, you will break these stereotypes by listing things that you are proud of and that are a big part of your identity. There is no need to refer to the stereotypes at all in this section- this is about how you see yourself and what matters to you. Finish by sharing your goals and dreams for the future.

Step 2: Record & Edit Your Video

Record your video:

These can be very simple videos using a camera or phone, but here are a couple of basic techniques to help you get a high quality recording:

  • Lighting Set yourself up so that you are lit from the front, and avoid overhead lighting that will create harsh shadows. Natural light is great, so you may want to record so that you’re facing a window. You can also set up a couple of lights in front of you and play around with the position to find your best light.
  • Sound:  Try to find a quiet spot to record, without too much background noise or echo.
  • Camera:  Set up your camera on a stable surface or tripod (or have a friend hold it steady). Shoot in landscape (wide) mode rather than portrait (tall) mode.
  • Position: Sit or stand at a comfortable distance from the camera so that you are centered and in focus. Mark your position with a bit of tape so that you can find it again easily and keep your shots consistent. Look directly at the camera rather than the screen when you are recording.

You can find more tips on setting up and recording your video here.

Edit your video:

There are plenty of free video editing programs available online, and you can use whatever program you like! Here are a couple of options and how-tos if you’re not sure where to start:

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