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racebending.com @ FOE4!

November 25, 2009

Nov 21 – 22: MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts

FOEThe Cultural Convergence Consortium presented its 4th Futures of Entertainment conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As a representative of racebending.com, I was invited to be a panelist by none other than Dr Henry Jenkins. For those who don’t recognize the name, Dr. Jenkins is at the forefront media convergence research, and is the founder of C3 as well as the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT.  His interest in our cause at racebending.com was piqued not just because he respected our goals, but also because, as a grassroots movement, we use whatever resources are available to us in order to open multiple avenues for our message.

This was an incredible honour for me, particularly as a representative of racebending.com. The conference was an opportunity t o speak to some of the top people in the media and entertainment industry as well as those in academic circles. I wanted to inform them of the focus of our protest; that we cover not only The Last Airbender, but also any other media that uses discriminatory casting practices and racist rhetoric.
I was on the panel Transmedia for Social Change, moderated by Dr. Jenkins.  My co-panelists and I focused on our motivations and the methodologies used to keep each of our important causes vibrant, mobilized, and relevant.  We covered discussion of group dynamics, ethical responsibility, and the tools we find most useful both online and in public/personal life spaces.  The panel was enlightening and lively, and the participants’ dedication to their various altruistic causes was palpable.
After the panel, audience members came to thank me personally for what the members and supporters of racebending.com are doing.
Cast Comparison Image used in the panel presentation.

Cast Comparison shown during the panel

One person said that from the moment he saw our  casting comparison image up on the presentation projector, he understood immediately what we were fighting for. Another person asked how on earth I retained such a zen, ‘bigger picture’ view of the entire situation. The answer was easy: a lot of support amidst a lot of dissent.
I also had the honour of being interviewed for the purpose of research by Sangita Shresthova, the Acting Research Director for Participatory Culture at USC.
Sangita Shresthova supports racebending.com!

Sangita Shresthova supports racebending.com!

There was a certain thrill knowing that racebending.com was making its path within such higher level academia, to be disseminated and cited into culture research and one day, hopefully, to become applied knowledge. Both Sangita Shresthova and Anna van Someren (CMS Researcher at MIT) showed their support for racebending.com!
Anna Van Someren (FOE)

Anna Van Someren supports racebending.com!

Overall, the conference provided a valuable opportunity for racebending.com to further impress both researchers and industry within media and entertainment with our strength and clarity of purpose as a grassroots activist group. This is one step closer to attaining a world where all movies — not only culturally-focused ones like The Last Airbender — will be cast responsibly and with fair representation.

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About the Author

Loraine Sammy is one of the co-founders of Racebending.com

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