We were excluded. Yet we rose above.
We stopped choosing between being ourselves and being okay.
"Don't ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love.
We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us."
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Why no faces?
Fiction books are more effective than movies at promoting compassion and understanding
Fiction appears to build cognitive empathy (the ability to tell what other people are feeling) better than live action film. Readers must imagine a character's appearance and voice and are more likely to imagine characters similar to themselves.*
We hope that our work helps overcome barriers to compassion and humanize our storytellers.
We took away our storytellers faces so you could more easily hear their voice, and hopefully you get a second chance to see them more clearly.
*According to “Relationship Between Fiction and Real-World Social Abilities” (2017) by Dr. Rose Turner.
Why unnaturally colored hands?
Bias limits people's ability to understand those outside their racial group*
In the Purple Hand Study**, racial bias weakens our understanding of emotions from people outside our racial group. Researchers found that “racial bias weakens our ability to feel someone else’s pain” if we have a bias against their race. Sometimes we don't even realize we have these biases.
However, racially ambiguously purple hands overrode a person’s racial biases! People could understand the person with the purple hands regardless of implicit racial biases. Thus unnaturally colored hands that don't correspond to real life race prevents how we listen to another person's story.
Our films start by blurring racial differences in order to help people see and celebrate them more clearly, as each storyteller's background is slowly revealed. The color of our voices go beyond the color of our skin.
Why animated video?
We chose animation as our format rather than live action to combine the effects on empathy for live-action films and fiction books. Live-action films build affective empathy (ability to respond appropriately to someone else's emotions) better than fiction books, but fiction books build cognitive empathy better than live-action.* Animation could combine both approaches and potentially improve understanding and compassion through increasing our capacity to respond appropriately to other people's emotions and tell what other people are feeling.
* "Fostering Empathy and Compassion through Fantasy/Animation" by Jess Mountfield
The quality of shows can influence our thinking, political preferences, and even our cognitive ability based on recent social science research.**
Given how video and television have risen in popularity, we saw video as the best method to convey our message.
**According to "You Are What You Watch? The Social Effects of TV" (2019) by Jonathan Rothwell
Why the Color of My Voice?
Growing up beside a wide variety of people who didn't look like me, I realized that a lot of people had beautiful, resilient, powerful stories that no one cared to hear, or knew how to ask about. For too long, I saw people in mainstream media, literature, and my everyday life, mocking and dismissing people who were different. In response, I'm not asking everyone to suddenly do a 180. I’m not asking people to suddenly start to value a different kind of person at the expense of valuing others.
Instead, I started the Color of My Voice. I believed that it was time for a new set of voices to also become the main characters of their own stories. Everyone has value, and some people's value has a beauty that mainstream culture doesn't know how to respect nor access. There's something beautiful about actively celebrating who you are despite someone's hatred or ignorance towards you, but this beauty is not made of vengeance. This beauty comes from broadening the excluder's understanding of what it means to be human. One of our storytellers, Aaliyah, captured it best:
"Diversity doesn't just benefit those who 'need' to be included. A degree of dehumanization happens when people are not exposed to others that are not like them."
It's not my job to return a sense of humanity to people who don't have it, but as a society, we need to change. We need help closing our eyes, and finally seeing and painting the colors of our voices, the ones that have been missing from our own, for far too long.
I'm not sure how I managed to convince a team of college students and working adults to jump on this crazy ride of random ideas we had. But none of this would have been possible without this team of driven, genuine, compassionate people who graciously showed up week after week to make the Color of My Voice happen. You should meet them here. They're pretty cool, I'd say.