Assignment 1: Position Paper
Representation of Minorites in the Media Must Improve
SOC 105: Society and The Media
Representation of Minorities in the Media Must Improve
Races, ethnic groups and minorities are not being depicted through media in a positive and productive way. Media is the communication canals in which the news, entertainment, education, information, or advertising messages are circulated (1). Media contains every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet (1). It is a known fact that American values are shaped by the mass media. From Radio, Television to internet and Social Media, Americans are influenced continuously (2). Americans are influenced regarding, how to look, behave, what to eat, where to live, how to dress, what to buy and what we believe (2). Because media plays such a crucial role of influence, when it comes to portraying individuals of society, we must make sure it is fair and done correct. Minorities face stereotypes, prejudices, racial tensions and unfair treatment in America on too many occasions. This has a lot to do with the lack of knowledge and understanding of the different cultures, races and ethnic groups. The way racial minorities are represented contributes to stereotypical images whether positive or negative (3). Therefore, the Representation of Minorities in the Media must Improve.
Recent studies have been conducted to explore how minorities are portrayed on television. These studies were done because television is a cultural artifact, one of the largest media outlets and it influences an extensive audience (3). The study replicated the study conducted by Mastro & Greenberg a decade ago and found that Latinos are still under-represented on prime- time television with only 3%. It also concluded that African Americans may have a bit more representation than Latinos but were depicted more negatively. The Latinos were esteemed and the least lazy of any group, while African Americans were the laziest, least respected and worst dressed (3).
The results of these studies are still factual today and is seen even during news coverage of isolated incidents. For example, when there is a crime or occurrence in a neighborhood, the media will find the poorest dressed, worst versed Black/Afro American individual to speak. Therefore, society expects Black/Afro-Americans to be illiterate. The roles on television or in movies depict black mean as hostile, uneducated or lazy and black women as angry or desperate. There is an increase in films where the black leading man, is being paired with a white or non-Afro/American woman. This is done as if the black woman is not desirable by her own race. Also, when a person of color is wrongfully murdered by police their character is torn apart and they are the victims.
In addition, minority men and boys being gunned down by the police and the policeman have adopted the same lie “I felt threated” or “afraid for my life”. As if minorities are so cruel and to be fearful of. How is it a trained and armed professional is afraid of an unarmed, individuals and teenagers with their hands up and trying to flee and run-a-way from the scene? This is a by-product of being mis-represented to the world. Have things improved regarding how minorities are being depicted in Media? No. They have not, even though many would say it has.
Critics would argue that things have improved on how media represents minorities due to some changes such as pre-school children’s animated cartoon shows on Nickelodeon, “Dora the Explorer” and “Go Diego Go”. Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go, are children television programs that come on starring a bilingual English/Spanish speaking girl and boy and their friends. Both Dora and Diego are Latino children who have left their homes and out discovering, learning and emphasizing life principles for success and productivity. Both T.V. programs highlight anything can be accomplished when you work together in a diverse team of extended friendships.
Implementing two cartoon programs for preschoolers is not enough to make a difference in the unfair representation of minorities in the media. Cartoons are seen by some as “make believe” imaginary, humorous and not realistic. To make a difference, more positive and productive roles and shows need to be created for minorities to be aired during prime-time television and in movie theatres. When it comes to the News Networks covering stories, they need to depict minorities realistically not as they have been stereotyped for years. With hate crimes, racially motivated incidents and mass shootings due to cultural differences on the rise, it is evident that representation of minorities in the media must improve.