#WhyWeWearRED Is A Global Call to Action and Media Coalition initiative that aims to bring awareness to Murdered and Missing Native Women & Girls and the direct link of the Lack of Inclusion of Native Women in Film & Television.
Content analyses of prime-time television and popular films reveal that the inclusion of American Indian Characters ranges from zero to 0.4% and Native women 0.0005%.
The disheartening statistics regarding Indigenous representation in Hollywood continues. In 1977, marked the first time a Native actress carried a leading role in a contemporary movie. The Girl Called Hatter Fox.
It took Hollywood 42 years to produce another one, Netflix’s ‘Chambers’ in 2019.
From 2003 to 2019, it had been 16 years that America had not seen a Native actress on episodic television on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX; these networks completely wrote out the Native narrative in regards to Native women, not one single native actress worked in a co-star role, guest-star, or series regular.
Native Women in FILM founder Joanelle Romero went in to meet with ABC Network in voicing this problematic issue. Due to this persistent work of Native Women in FILM Global Call to Action #WhyWeWearRED, Native Women in FILM is happy to say we now have representation on ABC with series Stumptown after Tantoo Cardinal was cast as a series regular for its fall season in 2019. And in 2020, Irene Bedard was cast as a recurring regular on CBS FBI Most Wanted.
However, a few Native actresses working is a far cry from where we need to go.
- Most Americans feel that what they learned – or are teaching – in school about Native culture is inaccurate, and they strongly support the need for curriculum change.
- 72% believe it is necessary to make significant changes to school curricula on American Indian History and Culture.
- 87% of state-level history standards Fail to Cover Native Peoples History in a post-1900 context.
Other issues Indigenous Women face: sexual harassment, assault, human trafficking, inequality for women in all kinds of workplaces, violence against the land is violence against women.
Violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions. Four in five Native women will be the victims of violence during their lifetimes. Native women remain the most underrepresented minority in the industry.
While there is no national database on missing and murdered indigenous women, on some reservations Native women are murdered at a rate 10 times more than the national average.
Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or abused than any other racial or ethnic group in the US. Eight in ten Native women will be raped, stalked or abused in their lifetime and one in three Native women will be raped, stalked or abused every year.
Meanwhile, the representation of Native women in mainstream film and television is plagued by invisibility, stereotypes and whitewashing. While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reported a body that is 30 percent people of color, only 0.0026 percent of its members are Native women.
This initiative was christened “Why We Wear RED” in order to create a powerful slogan identified with a strong symbolic color and image of hand across the face to bring attention to the fact that not only are Indigenous Women more likely to be victims of these types of crimes, their plight is often ignored and their specific stories are missing from mainstream media, leading to even further victimization.
The core theme of the #WhyWeWearRED campaign is the critical link between the lack of visibility in mainstream media and increased levels of violence against Indigenous Women. If an Indigenous woman goes missing and her story is not widely distributed, this in turn leads to lower chances of apprehending the perpetrator, and both she and her story are lost forever.
If Indigenous women are excluded from mainstream media, their victimization is compounded because predators receive the message that this class of victims does not matter. To combat this problem, Red Nation Celebration Institute works diligently to increase the profile of the Native narrative in all types and forms of media. This campaign is broad-ranging in scope and impact given the 500-plus tribes and indigenous communities across the nation.
The campaign furthers RNCI’s goal of increasing the visibility of these forgotten women, and, by bringing the issue forward, educates Americans to transform the ways in which the underlying problem is addressed.
Native Women in FILM & Television #WhyWeWearRED Call to Action and media coalition founded on January 7, 2018, by actor/producer/director/founder/humanitarian Joanelle Romero of Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI), now in its 25th year 2020! RNCI is the longest standing Native Media Arts & Cultural nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, with an office in Santa Fe New Mexico, with strong bases of support in North America and Europe.
Joanelle Romero has been curating films for the last 42 years with her FESTIVAL (s) RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival and Native Women in FILM including her Red Nation Television Network a streaming media and production company. RNCI is Native-led Native woman-led owned and operated enterprise.
August 2018, then Congresswoman Deb Haaland, now Madam Secretary partnered with Native Women in FILM #WhyWeWearRED Call to Action. NWIFT Why We Wear RED Call to Action and its Media Coalition had its first press conference in Santa Fe during Indian Market with Congresswoman Deb Haaland and others.
Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States and the oldest city in New Mexico on the unceded territories of the Mescalero Apache and Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambé, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, Zuni 19 pueblos.
Along with Native communities, others have followed suit in wearing a red hand across their face and using the #WhyWeWearRED hashtag, making it a global Call to Action!
Why We Wear RED and its National Media Coalition is an advocacy group devoted to securing the freedoms, human rights, protecting American Indian culture and the environment while increasing and improving portrayals of American Indian & Indigenous women in the media, including advocating for communications policies.
WHY WE WEAR RED Media Coalition Partners
National Resource Indigenous Women Center
University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy
University of Southern California Bedrosian Center on Governance
Indigenous Concepts Consulting
Humanitarian, Joanelle Romero creator and copyright of Why We Wear RED© #WhyWeWearRED© Why We Wear RED Philanthropy© #WhyWeWearREDPhilanthropy© coined by Native Women in FILM and is the sole property of Red Nation Celebration Institute.