In 2020, my 8-year-old daughter made a grand appeal; she wanted to see more diversity in my work. At the time, my multimedia production firm was filming rallies against racial injustice. In addition, diverse outfits recognized and awarded our work. We were fairly diverse, I thought.
However, my opinion was myopic and short-sighted. And it was maligned with bias. While our work was diverse when it came to some marginalized populations, it fell short enough to merit my daughter's rebuke.
As a result of her suggestion and some introspection, we developed a project featuring deaf and hard of hearing talent. In addition, we wanted to show these communities deserve racial justice as much as anybody else. It was a chance to highlight and humanize a segment of the population that is often marginalized.
The result is “Unspeakable,” a 60-second, captioned PSA.
Continue to Examine Your Company Culture
The takeaways of this experience include good ideas can come from anyone and that you should poke yourself regularly. Challenge the proverbial person in the mirror. As a communicator that means continually critiquing your work and company culture en route to making it a safe place for all.
Tactics could include adapting a company style guide for new pronouns, or utilizing demographics in deeper and more meaningful ways. Whatever you do, do not make this process a one-off. Culture needs regular examinations.
Connect with Stakeholders
With Unspeakable, it was clear we were not experts. As a result, our pre-production process included us talking to stakeholders. Instead of coming in with a know-it-all attitude, we connected at various intersections. We learned the deaf-and-hard-of-hearing community is not a monolith. Similar to other groups, it has diversity and inclusion issues. My team and I connected with people in this community, including advocates, organizations, and allies to consult and participate in the development of “Unspeakable.”
Continue the Conversation
Post-production on the PSA included engaging the community for press coverage. We were authentic about the PSA's origins, which led to "Good Morning America" interviewing my daughter. We also created a website that houses relevant materials and resources, including how to sign Black Lives Matter in American Sign Language and Black American Sign Language.
Emmai Alaquiva is an Emmy Award-winning director and owner of Ya Momz House, Inc., a digital multimedia agency