Following a year of pledges from companies committing to do better around racial equity, Color of Change has released two new tools aimed at creating more anti-racist media and supporting anti-racist workplaces in the entertainment industry and beyond.
The #ChangeHollywood Writer’s Room Database of Experts and Anti-Racist Trainer Directory are new resources to connect decision-makers with those who can help effect systemic change. The former specifically introduces film and TV producers to individual and organizational consultants who can help projects produce less inaccurate and incomplete and more authentic and anti-racist portrayals of Black people and their communities.
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The database’s experts, which the nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization notes mostly includes those who are “Black, people of color and/or women” or are organizations run by them, will come with “deep knowledge and first-hand experience” in various areas. That includes law enforcement tactics and procedures; the justice system including immigration; science and technology such as surveillance, forensics and medicine; and social issues ranging from the influence of big tech to workers and the economy.
American history, Black culture and social activism are also among the areas of expertise that the Writer’s Room Database offers to productions, with the organization noting that it will operate like a living tool that will continue to be updated to “fill in gaps in representation and topical expertise.”
While there are a growing number of expert databases developed by similar organizations within and outside of Hollywood, Color of Change’s database takes a different approach to how it vets and defines an expert. “We realize that ‘expertise’ is too often synonymous with reinforcing the authority and influence of white men,” the database’s vetting page says. “Color Of Change is committed to changing the prevailing image of the ‘expert’ and our database reflects that commitment: we are elevating the expertise and expert status of people typically excluded from writers’ rooms, especially Black experts.”
Anyone using the database can search by expertise, race/ethnicity, gender/sex and police/military background, with individual experts’ profiles featuring more detailed information such as their work sector, job title, location, previous experience consulting in Hollywood, experience with racial justice, specific topics of expertise, publications/videos, immigration background, languages, disability identity and religious background.
While the writer’s room database aims to help scribes learn to be anti-racist in their content, the Anti-Racist Trainer Directory supports those efforts off-screen (which also can impact the quality of representation onscreen). Color of Change says that its index helps take diversity training — an $8 billion-a-year industry — farther and ensure it’s more effective by offering workplaces a list of vetted firms. The goal is to help organizations not just with hiring and management but also in the creative process. The participating firms will assist larger organizations with identifying their own biased practices and advise on updating workplace policies. Additionally, they can offer coaching, training and other measures that reinforce equity.
The tools were created in conjunction with retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, Dr. Ruth Arumala, criminal justice journalist Josie Duffy Rice, OB/GYN and women’s health advocate Dr. Ruth Arumala and TV writer/producer Sunil Nayar. In a video promoting the database and directory, Nayar (All Rise, Revenge) notes that it can be “so easy to accidentally be a part of the problem,” which is in part why the database was created.
“I’ve seen the result on shows like Revenge and CSI: Miami that I did where I have trouble seeing some of that content now because it’s really fed into the problems or the narratives that TV tells all too often that we’re still looking to break,” he said. “That shows you the problem that there is. The entertainment took precedence over the people who are creating the entertainment. There’s a responsibility to both get the stories right but then also to get right with people who are helping you tell all those stories.”
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