On Aug. 1, when I woke up at 5 a.m. to get ready for the gym, I almost forgot Living In Colour was set to premiere on YouTube in an hour’s time.
When I finally took my phone off airplane mode two hours later, the notifications started rolling in:
I was a little nervous because I didn’t want people to think this web series was created out of hate. In fact, it was created for the exact opposite reason: I wanted a space for PoCs (people of colour) to have a chance to speak openly, honestly and without judgment about what it’s like to be in our skin.
And a lot of people who tuned into the episodes week after week shared their stories with me, too. Whether it was via email or online:
In fact, Living In Colour began trending in Canada after its initial launch!
But there were also people who, I believe, didn’t take the time to watch the episodes to see what it was PoCs had to say. All they saw was that PoCs were being represented and non-PoCs weren’t.
But to be honest: that was the point.
With massive successes of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, Living In Colour is a reflection of why diversity matters and why it’s important for people who have historically been marginalized, oppressed and faced racism to have a chance to be at the forefront and speak about issues that affect them on a daily basis.
Take, for example, the mental health episode. Does mental health affect those who aren’t people of colour? Of course.
Mental health affects one in five people in Canada, regardless of “education, income levels, and cultures,” according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
But when you’re a PoC, dealing with mental health adds an extra layer of hardship:
Living In Colour has been such an eye-opening experience for me. It took a lot of work from people across the company — thank you! — to turn this idea into a reality.
It was absolutely amazing meeting all the guests who shared their stories, whether it was about their experience as a PoC on dating apps, dealing with mental health, stereotypes or being in the LGBTQ2S community. And it was also amazing working with Farah Nasser, who hosted the series, and to see how passionate and dedicated she was about every topic and every guest’s story.
Nasser, and some of the guests, let me know their thoughts on Living In Colour:
Farah Nasser, host:
“To me, the conversations were the best part. Being a person of colour, I felt like I was fairly well-versed in the topics we covered, but I learned from each episode. In a world that seems to be getting more divided, seeing things from other people‘s point of view is key to understanding each other. This experience was truly an education for me and I hope it was for our viewers as well.”
Uppala Chandrasekera on episode 2 (mental health):
“I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback about this episode and the show in general. People in my life — both personally and professionally and from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds — who don’t normally engage in conversations about racism have started to talk about the impact of racism and discrimination both on an individual level and collectively as a society. This is what’s so powerful about this show. We are finally beginning to have open conversations about race and mental health and helping people feel like they’re not alone in their experience.”
Teeshia Sheldrick on episode 3 (stereotypes):
“I enjoyed hearing the stories and experiences of other panel participants. We come from different backgrounds, but our struggles are relatable and transferable. “
Hadiya Roderique on episode 1 (online dating):
“Having the conversation with others who had similar online dating experiences was great — a reminder that you are not alone!”
Asante Haughton on episode 2 (mental health):
“It’s been amazing to get our perspectives out and to know that others are feeling us, that we have support. But, as it happens sometimes, there were some folks who questioned why people of colour received this platform, framing it as preferential treatment for people of colour or of causing racial division, which is annoying, but it also leaves the opportunity to educate folks about equity and to think more deeply about their viewpoints.”
To watch all the episodes of Living In Colour, click here.
And stay tuned, season two is in the works.