Heroin Hypocrisy

heroin-use-white-parents-drug-warRecent local news reports in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have focused on the current heroin epidemic within the suburban and rural areas. Notably, the stretch of highway leading from West Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland is where the greatest focus is directed. In fact, many have dubbed this stretch of highway the “Heroin Highway.” Law enforcement, public health, and other government officials have selected this label, as they allege that it is along this highway that many people often travel to Baltimore to purchase heroin and then return to their homes in the suburban and rural areas of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

It should be noted that the current focus on heroin usage in suburban and rural Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is not exclusive to those areas. An editorial printed in the New York Times not too long ago also discussed the current increase in heroin usage. The editorial, however, particularly examined the change in the tone of the narrative surrounding heroin usage. Specifically, in the past, when heroin was perceived as a drug of the inner city, heroin dealers and users were often referred to and/or discussed in much harsher tones. (more…)


Post-9/11 Profit

Photo Credit: CBS

Photo Credit: CBS

Stereotypes in the media are about as new as the invention of the wheel. The news media’s framing of social events and issues has also become par for the course. Like news media, entertainment media often reflects or incorporates current events into its production. As I have noted before, the cultural production of entertainment media is often a subjectively creative replication or manifestation of hegemonic norms. For instance, in the 1990s, many box office films and television shows incorporated story lines displaying the crack epidemic of the time. In doing so, many African Americans, and African American males particularly, were frequently portrayed as ruthless drug dealers or users. In the same manner, Hispanic or Latino males are often cast as homicidal gang bangers with little to no empathy for human life. Of course, the perpetuation of media stereotypes has not excluded women of color, as women of color are often portrayed in a negative light as well (e.g., prostitute, crack abusing mother, etc.). (more…)

Bratton & The Black Family: Shall We All Go Into the 21st Century?

Bill BrattonEarlier this week, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton spoke on the Morning Joe show about the increasing crime in New York City. In his explanatory analysis, Commissioner Bratton stated that a disintegration of family values is the origin of crime in urban areas such as New York City. In a move to invoke racial dynamics and justify his contention, he cited the widely-read Moynihan Report, a report approximately 50 years old. To place the report in an appropriately historical context, the report referred to Blacks and/or African-Americans, as “negroes.” Although the report has been cited many times within the sociological discipline in discussions referencing the American Black family, the report failed to address many of the structural factors that impacted the lived experiences of Black families residing in urban areas at that time. More importantly, time has passed. This is not to say that the American Black family does not presently face challenges, but it has experienced changes nonetheless. (more…)

Well Into The 21st Century & The (Archetypal) Hero Remains the Same

Source: Good Morning America

Source: Good Morning America

The release of the most recent Avengers movie has been buzzed about with great frequency. In accordance with the usual media rounds that a soon-to-be released movie makes, the main actors of the upcoming Avengers made an appearance on the morning talk shows. Each one of the actors reflected the historically demographic standard of the American hero – white and male. Of course, this is by no means a new revelation, as others have noted the “white savior” theme that tends to dominate the media. Still, once again, one would think that, as the American citizenry diversifies, so would the superhero. (more…)

Childhood Should Not Be A Privilege: The Projection of Adult Stereotypes on to Black Girls

Intersectionality theory asserts that individuals experience varying degrees of oppression and marginalization due to social factors or constructs such as race, gender, class, etc. that work in a reciprocating and cumulative manner. Accordingly, the simultaneous effects of racism and sexism are part of the lived experiences of women of color on a regular basis. This, of course, is nothing new as scholars including Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill-Collins, Angela Y. Davis, bell hooks, and Melissa Harris-Perry have all eloquently examined the relationship(s) between and among social constructs used to label and subjugate women, people of color, and/or low income persons. In deed, in her highly insightful and influential work, Black Feminist Thought, Professor Patiricia Hill-Collins elucidates what she termed the Matrix of Domination – an invisible yet unavoidable socially manufactured system of power that disproportionately impacts women of color. In Black Feminist Thought, Professor Hill-Collins explains that “controlling images” of black women perpetuate stereotypes that negatively impact the manner in which they are perceived thereby influencing how they are treated on a day-to-day basis. Common “controlling images” or stereotypes of black women include but are not limited to the jezebel, mammy, sapphire, welfare mother, etc.

Although such is the reality for black women, unfortunately, it seems that such is the case for black girls as well. During the 2013 awards season, Quvenzhane Wallis, then 9-years old, received much deserved attention upon her Oscar nomination (more…)

Homogenous Hollywood & Sustaining the Status Quo

Each year, Hollywood celebrates what it considers to be the best in motion picture entertainment. The event, better known as the “Oscars”, presents awards to everyone they perceive as the best that year by category including best leading actress, best leading actor, best supporting actress, best supporting actor, best director, best musical composer, best screenwriter(s), etc. Nominees are decided based on a vote of The Academy, a collective body of persons deemed to possess expert knowledge in the respective fields of expertise within the business of motion picture development. Final award recipients are also determined by a vote of The Academy. Hence, it is widely perceived that a nod, or nomination, by The Academy, gives an individual or artistic endeavor even greater credibility.

It should go without saying that the Oscars are a monumental, cultural event. Television and print media outlets, morning shows, and web-based entertainment sites, to name a few, invest heavily in the coverage of the Oscars. All aspects of the Oscars are covered and speculated upon including the attendees’ fashion choices, after parties, menu, and of course, the nominees and eventual winners. Because of the attention that Oscar nominees receive, it is often a career validating or catapulting moment for those in the movie making business.

Oscar Nominees 2015 ImageThis year, as in previous years, there has been an enormous amount of discussion about the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees. (In fact, this year’s ceremony has earned the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.) Not one person of color was nominated for the categories of best lead actress, best lead actor, best supporting actress, and best supporting actor. This was especially an issue for many, as the movie Selma that, chronicled the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, did not receive the nominations many believed it deserved. A range of hypotheses have been offered in response to the lack of diverse nominations. Some have contended there simply was not an adequate number of persons of color in leading roles this past year while others have contended that the demographic composition of the Academy obscures the unbiased perception and subsequent equitable selection of nominees. (more…)

Stay Tuned: More Homogeneity Up Next!

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2012, more than half of babies under the age of 1 were a racial or ethnic minority. Such findings support the assertion that, ultimately, the United States will become a majority-minority country. Thus, cultural production via television should reflect such. For this reason, I am rather befuddled when I see television shows whose cast fails to reflect the demographics of the location in which the show is set.

As an example, although the state of California had the most single-race, non-Hispanic Whites in 2011, the state’s population is rather diverse with Asians, American Indians, Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and bi-racial or multiracial persons collectively comprising 65 percent of the total state population. Looking more closely on the local level, Pasadena, CA, the setting of the Big Bang Theory, is similarly (more…)