By Audrey Willett:
POC Representation Matters is an Instagram account used to spread awareness about BIPOC representation. Please enjoy our interview with its founder.
AW: Tell us all about you and your organization!
PRM: Hi there! I'm a Filipino-Singaporean immigrant living in New Zealand, and I started POC Representation Matters on Instagram in 2020 for a high school project in which I had to make a difference. As both a musician and theatre kid, I initially set up the page to spread awareness about BIPOC representation in the performing arts industry. I continued to run the page even after the project ended, and after a few months, I began posting about BIPOC representation in other areas too. On top of that, many of my original posts are based on my personal experiences as a teenage Asian girl living in a society where White privilege and male privilege are so prevalent. Consequently, I also started posting about other BIPOC-related issues such as intersectionality. Today, POC Representation Matters is an Instagram page that spreads awareness and educates others about the importance of BIPOC representation in the arts, books, and media, and about other BIPOC matters in general too! I also opened a Twitter account (@pocrepmatters) very recently, which I hope to be active on as well.
AW: Why do you think it’s important for your generation to let their voices be heard?
PRM: As a member of Gen Z, I think it's vital for us to use our voices to change the world for the better—both in the present and in the future! Many of us are already aware of the problems society faces and are continuously educating ourselves about them. Now, it's also a matter of making sure those issues are addressed and solved appropriately. Together, we have the strength to take a stand against discrimination and inequality, to call for justice. We have the power to push the world towards a more accepting, inclusive, and equal future. As daunting as it seems, we are the future of society. So why not start making lasting changes now? Gen Z has already proven to be full of leaders and change-makers, so if we are already making an impact today, imagine what we'll accomplish in the future!
AW: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
PRM: To be completely honest, I can be quite a pessimist sometimes. There is so much negativity in today's world, and as an aspiring activist, it can sometimes seem like there are too many problems and not enough time to solve them all. But at the end of the day, many of these issues are systemic and cannot be eradicated overnight. It's important to remind ourselves that if we keep putting in the effort to bring about change, change will eventually come! Personally, all the work I see people doing makes me more optimistic about the future each day. Of course, there is much more to be done, but it genuinely makes me happy to see so many people calling for and initiating change.
AW: What are the most important issues facing our world right now? And in the future?
PRM: Right now, I think one of the biggest problems we are facing globally is COVID-19 and the effects it has had and is having on people. Inaccessibility to mental-health support, unemployment, and immense stress (especially among students) are some issues worsened by the pandemic that I hope will be addressed soon. As for BIPOC representation, industries such as film and theatre are beginning to reopen after being shut down by lockdowns. So as the theatre, film & television, and publishing industries become more active, it's important to ensure the same problems with harmful representation or industry-wide discrimination that existed before are not repeated. We may not be able to make every single production, movie, show, and novel include healthy and inclusive representation, but we can use our voices to call for as much change as possible. As I said earlier: if we keep putting in the effort to cause change, change will eventually come!
AW: What does your organization offer that helps the world be a better place?
PRM: By using my platform to speak up about BIPOC representation and other BIPOC-related issues, I hope more people will be educated and aware about the importance of these topics. And the more people who are aware and educated, the more people who can call for change. Representation is so important because every person deserves to be told that they have a place in this world, so by calling for more BIPOC representation, we can hopefully make this a reality for everyone!
AW: Will you be voting in the next election?
PRM: Unfortunately, I won't be of voting age in my country's next election. However, I still strongly encourage people who are of age to exercise their right to vote, no matter which country they live in! It is crucial to have your voice heard and to contribute to the changes that affect both individuals and society as a whole. Every vote has the power to make a difference, so do your research, vote responsibly, and most importantly, help make a difference! AW: Please tell us all about your current campaigns, projects, and endeavors. Tell everyone where to find you online and on social platforms.
PRM: Currently, POC Representation Matters is based on Instagram. However, I just created a Twitter account that I plan to be active on too! Both pages are run only by myself at the moment, but I hope to possibly expand it into something more in the future. Other social media accounts, a website, newsletter, podcast, and many other fun things are also under consideration right now. So follow @poc.representation.matters on Instagram and @pocrepmatters on Twitter to stay updated! You can reach me via DM or email at email@example.com.
Audrey Willett is a southern California sophomore in high school. She is an activist and aspiring filmmaker, and the Social Media Outreach coordinator for The Gen Z Collective.