How Media Affects People of Color

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When people see blacks on T.V. being handcuffed by white policemen, some would think that it was justifiable for them to do so because they favor not to have criminals walking around the streets. The less criminals, the better. Although I understand their perspective – I would not want criminals roaming around the streets as well – I assert that not all of those people being placed in custody are rightfully accused. The way we obtain knowledge about the happenings of the world is through the best source which is media. In The Hate U Give, the media plays a crucial role in shaping people’s beliefs and opinions by portraying Khalil and other black people as drug dealers.

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Through media, people with less experience and knowledge of the real world would be easily influenced. Those with less interaction with black people are more likely to accept the information given by the media. For instance, in The Hate U Give, Hailey told her friends, Starr and Maya, what she heard on the news. ”I heard about it on the news,” she says. “…they said the drug dealer’s name was Khalil.” Since Hailey was not associated with Khalil at all, she embraced the information given by the media on how they portrayed him to be.

Many black lives have been affected by the public’s negative perceptions. As many of them constantly appear on television being arrested by white cops for something they didn’t do or for minor crimes, in the worst case scenario, they will begin to take those stereotypes and internalize them. When doing so, they sustain and strengthen the false representations through their behavior. In the movie 13TH, it showed many clips of black people getting arrested. The interviewee, Malkia Cyril – an executive director and center for media justice – stated her claim about the portrayals of black people on the news. She said that they are overrepresented as criminals more times than is accurate. Then another interviewee, Baz Dreisinger – an educator and author of Incarceration of Nations – expressed her opinions saying, “I’m a big believer in the power of media full of these clichés that basically present mostly black and brown folks who seem like animals in cages.” She then goes to state that people could just turn off the T.V. and be grateful for prisons because without them, criminals would still be at bay. These statements by the two interviewees come to show that media is a powerful weapon that is used to shape the beliefs and opinions of people and can bring about a negative impact on the men of color.

The ongoing false representations of black Americans by the mass media can greatly devastate black communities and ruin lives. The media’s unwillingness to present more equitable viewpoints on people of color create discrimination – which allows police to shoot indiscriminately – prejudice, oppression, and a division among societies. The mass media is truly powerful and can shape one’s perspective, so it should be aware of its role and take that as an advantage to administer social change and to allow equality for all.

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