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…)
In recent months, social media has sounded and maintained the outcry that “Black Lives Matter” as a result of the murders of unarmed black children, teenagers, men, and women. While there surely have been others that have not obtained the same media attention, notable victims include, but are not limited to, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice. In each of these cases, a schism often arose among public opinion that centered on the probable guilt or innocence of the victims and/or their associates. The innocence of the victims and/or their associates has often been a focal point of debate among persons, pundits, politicians, etc. in order to determine if the victims’ deaths were in fact justifiable.
Granted, one may contend, that from a legal standpoint, determining whether or not a homicide is justifiable is logical and a necessary component of the American legal system. Without it, many innocent people simply seeking to protect themselves and their families would probably go to jail – and for long periods of time. However, the subsequent legal processes related to the killings of the majority of the aforementioned also reveal the converse. A well-known example (and therefore one to which I have pointed before), is that of nine year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Aiyana, sleeping on the couch of her home, was shot and killed when police officers stormed the residence. Instead of being convicted of her murder, the officer responsible for her death was released after conflicting accounts of events provided by Aiyana’s family and police personnel resulted in a hung jury. The officer has since returned to active duty. In another example, the man responsible for killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin remains free after a jury found him not guilty due to what was deemed a lack of forensic evidence. In the case of Eric Garner, video evidence showed he was restrained to the point of death by police officers. Still, there were no indictments. (more…)
As a country, we recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery, also known as Bloody Sunday. Civil rights leaders, community activists, and anti-racist advocates marched in order to secure the right to vote – a privilege long denied to people of color in this country. Of course, racial and ethnic relations have improved significantly since that dreadful Sunday. Civil rights for marginalized persons, including people of color and women, have ameliorated many of the social, political, and economic problems that once plagued this nation. However, it should not be forgotten that, while we have made much progress in this country, we still have much more progress to make. (more…)