Is the Media Promoting Racial Division?

Someone that I know recently commented that he felt that the media’s constant coverage of racial issues promotes division within our country. He expressed frustration over the media only covering issues involving black people being victimized but not providing equal coverage of blacks victimizing others.

In part I agree with him. I don’t deny that the media plays a definitive role in how we view one another and that it often promotes an “us” against “them” mentality, but the one-sidedness doesn’t come as a surprise to me, nor would I expect it to surprise other people of color. Historically the media has criminalized non-whites by often depicting them as the criminals and whites as the victims. The media is notorious for underreporting the victimization of non-whites, specifically in the case of blacks. Take things like amber alerts or missing person reports for example. Have you heard of “missing white woman syndrome?” Yes, it’s a real thing. It’s a term used by sociologists to describe the phenomena of missing white woman being highlighted in the media while missing women of other ethnicities go unreported. The media often portrays blacks and Latinos as thugs or gangsters with the implication being that “those people” are inherently violent, while white criminals accused of similar crimes are shown to be misguided or mentally ill.

Media bias is not new. The media has been doing this for years so it begs the question, does the fact that we are hearing more now about the mistreatment of blacks make the increased coverage of the attacks on black men and women any less important? For me, it feels like a breath of fresh air. It feels like our stories are finally getting the attention that they deserve. Given the aforementioned history of media bias in our country, when I hear people make statements about the media promoting racial division through one-sided reporting, it makes me wonder why those same people never spoke out against the racial bias perpetrated against people of color in the media in previous decades? Where is their outrage when the media depicts people of color one dimensionally? Where is their outrage when the media refuses to highlight black or Latinos doing positive things in their communities?

When I hear people accuse the media of instigating division, it makes me question if that is actually what is happening. I mean is it really a thing or is the media now finally giving racial profiling incidents the attention that they deserve? Also, I can’t help but question the intent behind these sorts of statements. When people complain about the coverage being unfair it feels like they are actually saying that they would rather that the media said nothing because by saying things, by uttering words, it somehow makes things more real. It is as if they would prefer that the media kept quiet during this time of racial unrest and that it would be better if the press continued to perpetuate the falsehood that we are living in some sort of post-racial utopia. It feels like it is easier for people to make statements such as these than it is for them to actually acknowledge or examine the issues that non-whites know are real.

All of this rhetoric leads me to question whether or not some white Americans are upset about the coverage of black victimization because it actually forces them to examine things like privilege, inequality, or injustice. Things they choose not to acknowledge because it is a choice they have the luxury of making. Does their condemnation come from a place of really being upset with the way in which the media depicts things, or is it simply that they are now being forced to deal with their own denial?

What are your thoughts Afrolatinagirl peeps?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/49890237@N05/15405906854″>Justice4All</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

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