The student news site of West High School

West Side Story

  • Bring in donations for the Student Senate Food Drive, Nov. 27-Dec. 22.

Represent!

The lack of minority media representation is hurting racial minorities. Let's change that.

Recently%2C+minority+representation+in+the+media+has+been+increasing%2C+but+it%27s+still+not+enough.+Graphic+by+Ting+Gao.
Recently, minority representation in the media has been increasing, but it's still not enough. Graphic by Ting Gao.

Recently, minority representation in the media has been increasing, but it's still not enough. Graphic by Ting Gao.

Recently, minority representation in the media has been increasing, but it's still not enough. Graphic by Ting Gao.

Ting Gao, Reporter

Right now, the United States is the most diverse it has ever been. More than forty million Americans were born in another country, with the vast majority of them coming from countries like Mexico, China, India and the Philippines, according to the Pew Research Center. However, the country’s media has not kept up with this trend. Despite the growing audience of Hispanic, Latinx and non-white viewers, almost three out of four characters in TV shows and films are white. This is not how it should be. Racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. need more representation in popular media in order to combat prejudice and give minorities in the U.S. role models to relate to.

More minority representation is necessary because without it, racism flourishes. When there are few characters of a certain race, it’s less likely for the variation within each race to be seen. Even when there are minority characters in stories, they tend to be secondary or background characters (think Angelina Johnson or Dean Thomas from Harry Potter) whose role is mainly to support a white protagonist or the embodiment of some kind of stereotype (e.g. Jackie Chan, etc.)
Both of these situations are problematic. The first one implies that only white people have important stories to tell and that minorities’ roles are always subordinate to that of a white person’s. And the stereotypes only reinforce the idea that all people in a certain minority race behave in very defined ways, and that other races or ethnicities cannot have as much in-group variation as white people do.

The media is a crucial part of the effort to combat racism because it shapes people’s perception of the world. It is through the stories people read, the TV shows they watch and the films they view that they learn how to feel and think about certain things. That’s why violent video games are so controversial, as some people argue that they teach children that violence is a glorious pastime. This sort of teaching also extends to how they feel and think about other races and cultures. This is why, in the past, media was so crucial to white supremacy. By limiting portrayals of characters of non-white races to mere racist caricatures, the media was able to convince the public that people of other races were subservient and subhuman. In a way, this centuries-old perception still lingers even in our modern, multi-ethnic society. However, by doing the opposite and having a myriad of well-written characters of color—this can be eradicated.

People of non-white races and ethnicities also deserve to see people like them in the media. When a child cannot see people of the same race succeeding in certain areas, they may come to believe that as a consequence of their race, they cannot succeed in those areas. It may also generally hurt their ability to believe in themselves. A study published in Communications Research demonstrated that TV can decrease self-esteem in non-white children, which the study’s co-author, Nicole Martins, believes stems from the lack of positive portrayals of non-whites on electronic media.

If more media representation for racial and ethnic minorities is necessary, then how do we achieve it? One way is to encourage and hire more talented directors, writers and other creators of color. While there are some very visible ones (e.g. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Marie Lu), we still have a long way to go. A study by the University of Southern California has shown that a correlation exists between shows having directors of color and having greater minority representation. It also would create more well-written characters of color, since these creators would be less likely to write stereotypical characters and enforce stereotypes. Through the creation of quality characters of color, these creators will help destroy harmful stereotypes about their ethnic groups/races, and give children of color role models to look up to.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Represent!

    A&E

    Seasonal Crossword: Winter

  • Represent!

    Feature

    Test anxiety

  • Represent!

    A&E

    “Murder on the Orient Express” delivers exquisitely shot blockbuster fare

  • Represent!

    Football

    State Championship

  • Represent!

    Football

    Semifinal Round of State Playoffs

  • Represent!

    Football

    Cedar Falls and West meet again

  • Represent!

    Football

    First round of State Playoffs

  • Represent!

    Football

    Senior night

  • Represent!

    Football

    Gold out game to support Dance Marathon

  • Represent!

    Football

    Away vs. Burlington

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The student news site of West High School
Represent!