Sunday, July 8, 2012
Different motions -- more on Entertainment Panel at 2012 Conference
Second, some people say that elves reinforce traditional stereotypes of dwarfs as fantasy creatures, perpetuating stereotypes that make it difficult for the general community to treat people of short stature as they would others. Whether this is true or not, if some people believe it, and if Little People of America appears to support it by partnering with Radio City, it creates a conflict. In an attempt to terminate the relationship between Radio City and Little People of America, and to prevent future types of relationships, a motion to deny entertainment recruitment at the conference was introduced. While I agree that using Little People of America Conferences as a space to recruit dwarfs for entertainment roles is problematic, I was against the motion. As an organization, Little People of America is meant to be a space in which all people with dwarfism should feel accepted and welcomed. Such a motion would have implicitly judged some little people negatively for the decisions they made. Indirectly, it could have made them feel unwelcome.
I supported a different motion. A motion that would welcome Radio City to national conferences, but only if at least three other employment industries (non entertainment industries) also attended conferences with the intent of hiring little people for jobs. By providing options other than entertainment, this motion would address the problem of sending the message that there is the expectation that many little people will pursue entertainment as a career. In the end, it was the second motion that was approved by the board. Next year, at the 2013 conference in Washington, the motion may be tested for the first time. Little People of America's Employment Committee Chair plans to host a job fair. I am very excited and believe the job fair will be a success.
But once, on a conference call within the past few years, the board came within just a vote of passing the original motion. I hadn't thought about it much recently. But sitting on the panel last week, I was relieved that the original motion never passed. On the panel was an actor and a recruiter. And within the audience there were more actors who participated in the entertainment field. As I said before, Little People of America's role is to create a welcoming environment, regardless of what type of decision an individual has made in employment. It would have been strange and uncomfortable to sit on the panel, knowing that some people in the room had been made to feel unwelcome because of a policy decision made by the organization.
This is not to say that Little People of America does not have a role in confronting negative stereotypes in entertainment, and promoting positive awareness and positive messages of dwarfism. We do have a role and a responsibility to that end. And sometimes, that responsibility will force us to go after the entertainment industry or least specific aspects of it. But this doesn't mean that Little People of America can create an environment in which people of short stature feel unwelcome within the organization.