See stories and progress from The CENTENNIAL Campaign for
Enhancing our understanding of the history, lifestyles and sociocultural systems of African Americans
As director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies for 15 years, Darnell Hunt guided the center’s mission to conduct and support mulitidisciplinary research that investigates issues bearing on the social, psychological, economic and physical well-being of people and communities of African descent.
One prominent example of the center’s work and wide cultural influence is its Hollywood Diversity Report: Making Sense of the Disconnect. The multi-year, ongoing research project is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive look to date at diversity in the entertainment industry. The study, spearheaded by Hunt, focuses on the top 172 American-made movies from 2011 and more than 1,000 television shows that aired on 68 cable and broadcast networks during the 2011–12 season. Researchers looked at the level of diversity both in front of and behind the camera, on the rosters of prominent talent agencies, and among the winners of industry accolades.
According to the results, minorities and women in influential positions in the entertainment industry are represented at rates far below what would be expected given their percentage of the general population. “The report paints a picture of an industry that is woefully out of touch with an emerging America, an America that’s becoming more diverse by the day,” says Hunt.
These results are “significant because media representations contribute greatly to how we think about who we are, who we aren’t, and who we hope to be. When marginalized groups in society are absent from the stories a nation tells about itself, or when these stories circulate representations rooted primarily in caricature and stereotype, inequality is normalized and is thus more likely to be reinforced over time.”
The center welcomes contributions to help expand its education and research goals, both at UCLA and in the community.
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