Why Representation Matters

By: Candies Kotchapaw, Founder & Executive Director

Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today (DYLOTT)


Through ethnic and racial representation, we validate the lives of those disenfranchised by racism and discrimination and support them, particularly Black youth and POC.

Imagine seeing yourself reflected in a person or place that you never would have imagined otherwise. You feel validated and motivated. There is a positive shift in your mindset, attitude and outlook. This is what representation can do. Yes, it matters.


Representation opens the door for more opportunities, voices and journeys to be heard. It can also be helpful in “reducing negative stereotypes about other groups” (Nadal, 2021). Through representation, we validate the lives of those disenfranchised by racism and discrimination and support them.


Black youth aged 15 to 34 were more likely to report experiencing discrimination compared to adults aged 35 and 54 and 55 and older.

Particularly in the Black community, our youth experience racism and discrimination at alarmingly high rates. According to Statistics Canada, “Black youth aged 15 to 34 were more likely to report experiencing discrimination compared to adults aged 35 and 54 and 55 and older” (2022).


To address these issues, advocates have started movements to acknowledge the need for change and organizations have followed suit by creating programs to address racism and educate the community.


Our program #LeadLikeAGirl is one such program. #LeadLikeAGirl pushes young Black girls to see themselves in careers where Black women are few.


Lack of representation is detrimental to how these girls see the world, constricting their self-views and limiting their futures. Instead, we encourage them to look to Black role models and to be the representation they want to see.


In fact, DYLOTT (Developing Young Leaders Tomorrow, Today) was created with the representation of the Black community in mind. We create programs that uplift, educate and prepare our Black youth of today for the struggles they may face tomorrow.


Our mission is geared toward changing the political and socio-economic outlook of Black communities. We do this by providing developmental opportunities and mentorship, through advocacy and community work.


One of our programs, the Black Diplomats Academy (BDA), provides young Black professionals with access to developmental tools, specialized training, and learning opportunities to prepare them for careers in public service and global diplomacy.


It is important to have Black youth in diplomatic positions who have a voice in policy-making that affects People of African Descent worldwide. With the help of mentors and influential leaders, we need our youth in the rooms where such conversations occur.


In order for programs like #LeadLikeAGirl and the Black Diplomats Academy to exist, the problems of Black communities had to be felt, acknowledged and prioritized.


Black-led organizations that serve Black communities are key to healing our communities and advocating for our needs and concerns. We need assistance to develop programs that deliver culturally relevant and appropriate opportunities and employment services.


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Strength In Structure (SiS) is an operational framework initiative that helps support organizations that are focused on delivering services but may not have the capacity to create and maintain their organizational infrastructure and governance.


The Strength In Structure (SiS) initiative enables Black-led organizations to do a strengths-based analysis of the organizations the initiative is supporting, to determine where and how capacity-based supports can be most beneficially applied.


Without this critical operational infrastructure review and supportive guidance, non-profit organizations will struggle to meet the nuanced needs and demands of the communities they serve.


Strength In Structure (SiS) allows for DYLOTT to continue the work of uplifting and providing opportunities for this generation and the next generation of Black youth.


With the programs DYLOTT has been able to create, we are positive that we can make an indelible impact in establishing a more diverse environment in diplomatic spaces and Black-led positions and beyond, sprouted from the youth of today.