Sep 24, 2020 Issues: Other Issues

Today, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Diversity in America: The Representation of People of Color in the Media examining the lack of diversity in the media, with a focus on the film industry. The hearing which was long sought by Leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus - led by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) - is available on the House Judiciary Committee’s YouTube channel.

Witnesses at the hearing included:

  • Ms. Erika Alexander, Actor/Director/Producer and Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Color Farm Media
  • Mr. Daniel Dae Kim, Actor and Producer
  • Mr. Edward James Olmos, Actor and Producer
  • Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Associate Professor of Communication and Founder and Director, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California
  • Ms. Karyn A. Temple Esq. Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel, Motion Picture Association, Inc.
  • Ms. Joy Villa, Recording Artist, Actor, and Author
  • Mr. Jason Whitlock, Sports Journalist 

The Tri-Caucus Chairs released the following statements on the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Diversity in America: The Representation of People of Color in the Media:

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest growing racial demographic in our country, but you wouldn’t know that from watching TV or movies,” said Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27. “For instance, from 2007-2017, just 4.8% of the on-screen characters in the top grossing 1,100 films were Asian and less than 1% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The numbers are just as dismal behind the scenes where a mere 3.1% of all directors were Asian. This white washing in both the media and Hollywood means fewer opportunities for actors and creators of color, and it also means fewer of our stories and experiences are reflected on screen. The result is that fewer young people can imagine themselves in these roles, and it reinforces the false impression that American culture is predominantly the white stories we see on screen – something particularly dangerous at a time of rising xenophobia and bigotry in our nation. The success of box office hits like ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and award-winning shows like ‘Killing Eve’ show there is an audience and demand for more diverse stories. That is why I joined with the chairs of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses to call for this hearing, and I’m grateful to Chairman Nadler for helping to shine a light on the need for greater diversity in media.”

“The media and Hollywood are the narrative-creating and image-defining institutions of American culture, yet for far too long Latinos have been hardly represented, and often depicted as stereotypes. This erasure has a high cost: today there is dangerous nexus between the racist political rhetoric and the images that people see on their screens of Latinos as criminals and as threats to society,” said Chairman Joaquin Castro, Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “Diversity and representation are not just about jobs, but also shape the perception of our communities. It’s long past time we take a hard look at the high levels of exclusion of the diverse Latino community, including Afro-Latinos, and other marginalized communities in the media and in Hollywood. I appreciate Chairman Nadler and the House Judiciary Committee for holding this important hearing, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month.” 

“The United States of America is a melting pot representative of many cultures and traditions, yet one of its most powerful sectors – ‘the media’ - does not fully reflect this,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37). “The lack of diversity in the media means that many of our best and brightest - our creatives - are left out of storytelling opportunities and their voices are rendered irrelevant in multicultural depictions. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that the media is truly reflective of our country and inclusive of those voices. This is the America the world should experience.”