How Pop Culture Makes the Case for the Value of Diversity

As I was reading about the great buzz, reviews, ratings, and record-breaking opening weekend for Wonder Woman, I could not help but think of the work we do at Genius Plaza, and why diversity is so important.

You may ask how Wonder Woman ties into education. Well, here you have a film directed by a woman with a female superhero already making history based on its reviews and ratings. It makes you think: why don’t film studios bet on women-led films? Take, for example, the success of How to be a Latin Lover earlier this spring. Though it may be another film you didn’t think you’d read about in an ed tech blog, the film – starring two leading Mexican stars – made more than $20 million in its first ten days, with Hispanics representing 89 percent of the audience during the opening weekend. Again, you think, why do we not see more of this diversity in film?

Then you have the song of the moment, Despacito, which has been the #1 song for three weeks running, even with very stiff competition. As I listen to the song, it reminds me of what I learned watching “On Your Feet” on Broadway – which, by the way, had the largest all-Latino cast in the history of Broadway – and the challenges Gloria and Emilio Estefan faced when trying to bring their music and culture to the masses. Again, you think, why don’t music studios invest in a more diverse array of artists? Broadway has work to do, but in the 2015 season, it saw the impact of embracing diversity with On Your Feet, Hamilton, and The Color Purple, to name a few. There is much work to be done, but we are seeing more variety, which only leads to stronger results in the box office and on the music charts.

Ultimately, the answer to the question on why we need more diversity is in the numbers – in an evolving world, content needs to reflect the diversity of our population and invest in women, African Americans, and Latinos.

At Genius Plaza, we will continue to celebrate diversity by providing culturally relevant content created for and by the communities we serve, something critically important not only in pop culture, but in every part of both the public and private sectors, including education.

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