HHS, a project of USC’s Annenberg Norman Lear Center, had a terrific panel yesterday with Jennifer Cecil, Carol Barbee, Michael Nash, Dr. Zoanne Clack, Max Burnett, and Karen Tenkhoff. HHS sponsored a study tour to tour poor areas in Mumbai, India and South Africa for several Hollywood writer/producers.
The idea is that trips like these and panel discussions will raise awareness among writers and content creators about health issues and climate change.
I still left the panel with mixed feelings.
I obviously can’t speak to HHS’s recruiting efforts but wasn’t surprised to see the panel dominated by women. Several panelists were connected to shows executive produced by African American Shondra Rimes. Women and people of color, often already sensitive or drawn to these issues to some degree, getting more sensitive. I wonder what would have happened if a few of the guys — and I do mean guys — who deal in big budget action adventure, sex and violence had gone on the trip instead.
Consciousness raising doesn’t take. It can’t be grandfathered in. It has to be repeated.
Even then, the pace of changing hearts and minds is painfully slow and fitful.
When a panelist mentioned that she was surprised to see happiness in the slums, I immediately thought of Nikki Giovanni’s poem Nikki-Rosa.
Nikki-Rosa childhood rememberances are always a drag if you're Black you always remember things like living in Woodlawn with no inside toilet and if you become famous or something they never talk about how happy you were to have your mother all to yourself and how good the water felt when you got your bath from one of those big tubs that folk in chicago barbeque in and somehow when you talk about home it never gets across how much you understood their feelings as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale and even though you remember your biographers never understand your father's pain as he sells his stock and another dream goes And though you're poor it isn't poverty that concerns you and though they fought a lot it isn't your father's drinking that makes any difference but only that everybody is together and you and your sister have happy birthdays and very good Christmasses and I really hope no white person ever has cause to write about me because they never understand Black love is Black wealth and they'll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy
Having worked for the Streisand Foundation for many years and seen organizations like Hollywood Hill and the Creative Coalition come and go, it’s really great to see a Hollywood organization that appears to have diversity as part of its DNA. HHS’s Sentinel Awards recognized children’s programming and a telenovela.
The reach and influence of media is, in my view, often overstated. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. Several members of my family have mental health challenges. How those health issues and others are treated in the media matters much. It directly impacts public policy debates and the day-to-day treatment of people whom I love.
Amazing work by the effort’s director Sandra de Castro Buffington who is planning local events as well. I watch HHS with great interest.