Racial diversity: Star Trek: The Original Series
Coming just three years after the Civil Rights Act, Star Trek broke cultural and societal norms by casting not one but two people of color in prominent positions of leadership on the starship Enterprise. George Takei, a Japanese-American man, was cast in the second season, but due to scheduling conflicts with another project was in only half the season. Nichell Nichols, however, was there from the first season, and was the first African-American woman to be featured in a role that wasn’t ‘servant’, much less a leadership role, and her work in the series led to her meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, as well as working with NASA to create a program to attract female and minority staff members for NASA, as well as inspiring the countless actors and actresses of color who came after her. Star Trek also had the first-ever televised biracial kiss, between Uhura, Nichols’ character, and Captain James Kirk, a white man.
Please take a moment and watch this video.
I will definitely look into this show! Thank you for the suggestion.
Example of cultural diversity: Teen Titans
In the show, only three of the five main heroes originate from Earth, and of those, none of those three had similar backgrounds. The two girls on the team, Starfire and Raven, also came from different places — Starfire from Tamaran, another planet, and Raven from Azarath, which is a completely separate dimension. The series uses these differences to have frank talks about discrimination, the feelings of those who have been categorized as ‘other’ by entire cultures, and the effects of prejudice, among other issues. The supporting cast of other Titans, villains, and background characters also draws from a wide array of cultures.
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This study concerns May 2008, so it’s slightly dated, but it still holds a lot of meaning.
Example of racial diversity: Liberty’s Kids
This show was an example of racial diversity through two of the main characters, Henri (a native French speaker of ambiguous ethnic background), and Moses, a former slave who works for Benjamin Franklin in his print shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Revolutionary War. This show went through the course of the Revolutionary War from the Americans’ perspective, but often gave British points of view through Sarah, a native of England, or British historical figures, and treated them both as valid options. It also often spoke very frankly about the sexism and racism inherent during that time, and frequently focused on the female or people of color heroes of the war that are often neglected in history lessons.
Example of body image diversity: Steven Universe
This series is an example of body image not just because of the three different women you see above (from left to right in the background, Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl, all main characters), but because of the other women in the show, none have similar body types. This can be exceedingly rare in the world of animation, and the show has gotten attention because of this.
I’d like to thank everyone who has sent in suggestions to this point. They have all been carefully recorded, and I plan on following up on all of them in time. However, I have found myself with an overwhelming amount of suggestions for racial diversity, and very little for any other type of diversity.
Therefore, I’d like to remind you that there are seven (7) other categories that I accept, as listed:
- Sexual diversity
- Religious diversity
- Cultural diversity
- Class (also known as economic) diversity
- Ability diversity
- Gender/Gender Identity diversity
- Body type diversity
For any piece of visual media to qualify as an example of diversity under my terms, it needs to have three different examples of in a single category. Suggestions can be sent either anonymously or signed here.
Again, thank you so much!
Example of racial diversity: The Walking Dead
With a cast that has approximately 39 out of a total of 139 (non-Walkers) — which brings it to 39% of the characters being visibly people of color — The Walking Dead’s TV show more than earns its spot as an example of racial diversity, and the comic and the video games do as well.