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America makes strides in diversity, but is more needed?

Augusta University has more than 80 experts available to discuss a wide variety of topics. Here are some trending stories on diversity to consider this week.

Looking back: 400 years since the first enslaved people arrived in America

The history of freedom and slavery in America is a long and complicated one, but we still have much to learn.

“These men and women had been stolen from their homes in Africa, forced to board a ship, and sailed for months into the unknown. The first Africans in an English colony, their arrival is considered by many historians to be the beginning of a 400-year story filled with tragedy, endurance, survival, and a legacy of resilience, inequality and oppression.” – National Geographic, Aug. 13.

Augusta University Professor of English Seretha Williams says centuries later, we are still grappling with questions like:

  • Even today, how are African American communities negatively affected by this event?
  • Is this topic taught and covered in U.S. children’s education?
  • What role did the enslaved play in the building of our country and is that role recognized?
  • What would America look like without the slave trade?
  • Do reparations work and how would they be decided?

Williams is an expert in Africa and African diaspora, digital humanities and digital publication, and co-edited Afterimages of Slavery: Essays on Appearances in Recent American Films, Literature, Television and Other Media. She is available to speak about this historic moment.

Has Dora discovered the key to diversity at the box office?

Dora the Explorer – the polite adventurer who leads excited young viewers on adventures through South America while educating them – has her own theme song, branded toys and a cast of characters who have also become household names. Dora and the Lost City of Gold, the live-action version, has been gold at the theaters, as well, grossing more than $80 million worldwide.

Dora, played by Isabela Moner, is the strong female lead of a cast that is almost entirely made up of actors from Latino backgrounds. The film continues to show the success of gender and racial diversity in Hollywood.

The move toward increased diversity also includes the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.

“There is a major push for representation in both of the communities, and we’re still reaching new milestones there every day,” said A.B. Osborne, assistant professor of animation at Augusta University. “Steven Universe and the recent She-Ra reboot have been major breakthroughs for authentic and positive LGBTQ representation. Steven Universe, for example, had the first same-sex marriage proposal and wedding for a kid’s animated series. Rebecca Sugar, the creator, had to work very hard to get Cartoon Network to agree to that moment.”

It’s not all positive, however. Backlash against Halle Bailey playing Ariel in Disney’s remake of The Little Mermaid was loud, but Disney was unwavering, stating that the young African American actress is perfect for the role.

If you are covering this important but sensitive topic, Osborne is an expert in the field of animation and is available for interviews.

View a photo of Williams and a photo of Osborne.

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Lisa Kaylor
Written by
Lisa Kaylor

Lisa Kaylor is Media Relations Specialist at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-5292 or lkaylor@augusta.edu.

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Lisa Kaylor Written by Lisa Kaylor

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