Sunday, October 1, 2023

Richer With Me: The Smart New Campaign That Celebrates Diversity In New Zealand

Culture, a socially-led agency, have created a campaign called Richer With Me, where Kiwis with different backgrounds explain why we’re better off as a country because of our diversity, as well as delving into moments where they’ve been judged or questioned because of their backgrounds. This campaign is designed to use social media for good and to keep these conversations about diversity front and centre in our minds, to promote equality and inclusion. Jay Hall and Angie Fredatovich, from Culture, talk to Capsule about what prompted this movement and what their aims are for Kiwis.

Where did the idea for Richer With Me first come from?
Off the back of the Christchurch terror attacks and the Black Lives Matter movement due to the death of George Floyd, we exercised our strong belief that we have a moral obligation to shed light on the things that truly matter.

Who were you trying to reach with it?
People who are on the fence and ignorant – this is for them. And who better than the victims of ignorance to educate those people on these issues.

How did you select the people you interviewed for it and why did you pick them?
It was important for us to showcase a range of people from each community, doing our due diligence to avoid tokenism and stereotypes. E.g. The Black and Māori Community let us know they wanted to be represented beyond just sports celebs, which tends to be traditional media’s narrative. Also, given the industry we work in, we are well aware that there’s a whole bunch of social noise we have to cut through with the “influencer culture” and media spend, so we needed people from these communities that had an audience we could further push the content to, but not just any audience; an audience of a like-minded community.

Did you have expectations on what their answers would be like and did the reality differ from that?
No – this wasn’t a narrative that we moulded… we wanted the voice to be theirs, not scripted, not a journalist angling their narrative. It was simply a platform for people to say whatever they wanted to say. It’s not for us to direct the messaging they wanted to communicate, so we left it solely to them. Despite having no expectations, we must admit we were blown away by the amazing and diverse stories from each community.

What answer moved you the most?
They all moved us in different ways – every single one had a moving statement. One theme touched us particularly hard… those who said that at one stage they were embarrassed of their ethnicity, which was heartbreaking. The fact that society can be constructed in a way that not only were people ashamed of their roots, but they also turned their back on their heritage. We as a society need to take a look in the mirror as to how we are making them feel.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been around, in different forms, for a very long time. Do you think this is a conversation that society itself is getting better at having, or do you think it’s getting worse?
We have an acute reaction to chronic issues, which is why we undertook a 12-month commitment to showcase all different communities, not just being vocal when the shit hits the fan. We don’t think it’s a case of it getting better; with the nature of social media, it gives the impression that we’re having these conversations more regularly, however, we see a lot of people jumping on trending topics for social clout and it needs to be bigger than that.

For us, we want people to shut down casual racism, have a chat with that racist family member, learn about other cultures, and have those difficult conversations. 

Our campaign is called Richer with Me, which celebrates the fact that Aotearoa is richer with all of these amazing cultures, the black community being one of them. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal society, and often those who shouldn’t have to are finding themselves in positions of educating the ignorant. As in any power imbalance, there is a large cohort of ignorant people who need to see this content. If we can just change one person’s mind, this is all worth it.

Do you feel hopeful that the younger generations will be more inclusive than the previous generations?
We feel like this conversation happens with every generation. Of course, we hope the younger generation will be more inclusive, however these issues are systemic and multifaceted. We have to empower the next generation to take the lead and make changes where necessary.

As the social creatives at Culture, how do you pick and develop projects that you feel will make a meaningful difference to our world?
There’s always a level of subjectivity. We are fortunate that between us, as a creative partnering, our backgrounds are broad which means we span a vast range of potential topics and projects. We try to consciously cast our net wide, as seen through Richer with Me, which we will showcase on top of the Black and Māori communities, e.g. Trans community, LGBTQ+, senior citizens, the Asian community, the Muslim community, the list goes on. We are well aware there’s going to be gaps in our net but we’re doing our best.

Visit here to see the Richer With Me project and to find more information on Culture

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