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Author: Aleena Gardezi

#ChristmasSOwhite Initiative Brings Diversity to Christmas in UK

Posted December 18, 2016

“We believe in a Christmas that represents everyone – that celebrates diversity, and reflects real life,” states the #ChristmasSOwhite website, which aims to make sure “white Christmas is a thing of the past.” This campaign, inspired by the #OscarsSoWhite campaign,  intends to protest the underrepresentation of people of color online with particular focus on Christmas, which currently doesn’t seem to exist, according to one of the movement’s founders, Nadya Powell.

Powell was working with her daughter’s friend on a school project in which they were searching online for images of things she likes doing at Christmas. After searching several different activities, the 6-year-old black girl chose to use images of the backs of families’ heads to illustrate her Christmas because there was no one who looked like her. Most of the images they came across were of white children, mostly blonde, enjoying Christmas.

Veteran ad exec, Powell, who also been a driving factor in the Great British Diversity Experiment which began last year, decided she wanted to do something to fix this. With the help of powerful ladies with similar goals, Selma Nicholls, CEO and Founder of Looks Like Me, a modeling agency focused on diversity and creatives from Sunshine, Nathalie Gordon and Wren Graham, the initiative launched on December 15.

“There is an under-representation of the BAME community in marketing and advertising, partly due to bias and partly as the imagery simply does not exist,” Powell explained. “This is causing young people across the world to question their identity – many of the parents who are part of #ChristmasSOwhite have experienced their children asking if they can have white skin like the girls on TV and in Magazines.”

“This is not a future we want for any child,” she added.

The movement has created imagery focused on presenting a range of young BAME British families enjoying the festivities of Christmas, whilst celebrating the diversity of modern day Britain. Shot by renowned photographer, Helen Marsden, the images include families from the Looks Like Me books as they each enjoyed the festivities of Christmas, and the six year old who can now represent other kids like her.

Nicholls, who represents the families in the shoot commented: Our approach to the amazing brief #ChristmasSOwhite, was to select six very different representations of the unseen BAME British Christmas experience. Presenting a range of young BAME British families enjoying the festivities of Christmas, whilst celebrating the diversity of modern day Britain.”

The initiative not only aims to raise awareness and demand change from the marketing industry, it also strives to make sure that the BAME community are accurately represented at Christmas forevermore by working with photography distribution platforms about taking on the imagery and working with them on future SOwhite productions.

“It was such a privilege to be part of, and grow, this campaign,” Gordon told DIVERGE. “Diversity needs to be addressed and normalised, fast.”

“The quicker that happens the quicker we can ensure all voices, stories and lives are accurately represented,” she added, stating that additional projects including #EasterSOWhite may be a possibility.”

Here are a few images from the photoshoot: