Can you name a single show in the history of Canadian TV that's about a Black family?
While recent protests against racism have helped to highlight the importance of diversity in all parts of society, some members of Canada’s television industry have claimed that their sector are falling behind when it comes to representation.
Lisa Michelle Cornelius and Samora Smallwood are co-chairs of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at ACTRA Toronto (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists).
"I cannot think of a Canadian show that has shown a Black family," said Black Mirror and Star Trek: Short Treks actor Cornelius in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.
"Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, and even if you can recall one, when was that? And yet I know plenty of Black families outside of my own who live in this city and around the city, all over Canada."
Determined to inspire change within their industry, Cornelius and Smallwood have organized a video conference with 100 of their members on Friday, June 12.
The pair are also hopeful that Canadian media organizations who have made statements in support of Black Lives Matter will make the radical adjustments needed to end anti-Black racism in film and TV.
"Invite us to the front of the show," added Smallwood, who has starred in American Gods and The Expanse. "Don't just proliferate tokenism. Don't check a box and say, 'We need a Black show. Anybody got a Black show nearby?' Find and cultivate and develop good programming and people will watch it."
When it comes to good examples of representation and diversity on Candian TV, Cornelius points to to CBC's Kim's Convenience, which follows a Korean-Canadian family living in Toronto.
"Going forward, how about a show with a predominantly Black cast? Because we don't have any of that," she suggested.
"Or if the show is predominantly white, how many of those shows do we have that are predominantly white? Why aren't they more reflective of the cities we live in?"
The issue of diversity on Canadian TV has been a topic of conversation on Twitter in recent times.
Diversity. Diversity. Diversity. Ugh. I don’t see this enough on Canadian tv. Still! Some days it makes me angry. Sometimes it makes me sad. Today I’m just annoyed. #DiversityandInclusion— Natalie Preddie (@_NattyP) May 11, 2020
Meanwhile, Diggstown star Vinessa Antoine previously described the state of representation on Canadian TV as "laughable."
“Nobody's in the fetal position crying about it or having big boo-hoo,” said the Toronto-born star in an interview with Refinery29Canada.
She added: “We’re very used to it at this point.”
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