Plum Spucked

Musings and art from a twenty-three-year-old Oregonian.

madamepsy asked: I mean, do you have any form of post specifically about why representation matters? I remember seeing parts here and there both from studies and I think anecdotal. The direct consequences of the lack of or negative representation of PoC?


Well first and foremost, I’d direct you to this thread, with accounts from Black people who have been at the receiving end of racist harassment at Renaissance Festivals and SCA events. That is the end result of the problem of no representation in history *or* popular media. This disgusting and harmful behavior is as appalling as it is common, and driving people out of communities because your average white person doesn’t think their race is historically accurate is one of the horrors I would very much like to see end. Immediately.

Secondly, the same idea is more or less accepted by creators of media as an absolute truth, and including any kind of diversity in a setting even loosely based on a European historical setting not only is seen as “Political Correctness for its own sake” (lolwut??), but is actively attacked by people suspiciously invested in keeping certain types of media as white as possible (even modern media with any kind of historical connection).

Besides the overt hostility towards even the idea of inclusive representation or casting, there’s the consequences of this skewed media.


This study from the University of Indiana showed that more time spent watching television equaled lower self-esteem for all children *except* white boys. 


Soraya Chemaly’s article here includes links to many, many articles and studies that show how the fact that most children’s books are about white boys affect all children. NPR’s article explores why these books remain “stubbornly white” even in the face of changing demographics in the audience for these books.

This study showed that reading fiction directly improves empathy.

This study showed that people who read books about vampires identified with vampires, and people who read books about wizards empathized and identified with wizards.

And yes, there is such a large gap between the measurable empathy that white people feel for people of color, especially Black people, that the result is horrifying:

Silverstein reviews research that shows that the racial empathy gap has real world consequences: undertreatment of pain (even in children) and, yes, harsher sentences for African Americans convicted of crimes.

The lack of representation and the quality of representation that does exist directly affects the people who are or aren’t being represented and their lives.

This article from Racialicious explores how the quality of representation and the way people of color are depicted in media intersects with the idea of “historical accuracy” and seems to be a bastion of acceptable racism in a lot of ways.

It’s also pretty notable when you consider that in 300, where the Persians are the villains, they’re rather noticeably cast with Black actors, and yet in the film Prince of Persia, the Persians become simultaneously the protagonists AND White.

Bonus Round: A “discussion” in which this is actually talked about, and please note the sheer amount of comments from people who are the MOST insistent that “people are taking this TOO seriously” are also the same ones who HAVE BEEN BANNED from the site, presumably for using slurs or harassment.

I personally think that says a lot about who’s *really* the most invested in the issue of representation in popular media, which has carried through in my own personal experiences, in daily life as well as here online (death threats).

In the end, people’s ideas about history in the popular consciousness will always be heavily shaped by the media they consume, whether or not is “historically accurate”. And there’s no question that it directly affects the quality of life of people of color in the United States.

Karl Urban for Peace in 10000 Hands

Karl Urban for Peace in 10000 Hands

Pass the ABLE Act NOW!



"My name is Sara Wolff. I am a 31 year-old from Moscow, Pennsylvania, who happens to have Down syndrome but that doesn’t stop me from achieving “my” better life. I work as a law clerk and also at Keystone Community Resources in the Office of Advocacy. I am a board member of the National Down…

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