Representing Black

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Representing Black

Madison Green '20, Reporter

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As we all know the media affects the public greatly. What is broadcasted to the public and the way it is broadcast can affect the outcomes of presidential elections, jury decisions, public opinion and other important things. The media has an effect on the audience to shift or influence how we perceive people and things. One person’s stance and viewpoint can easily become shared viewpoints among a majority of people from a town, state, or country regardless of accuracy. The media can influence whole residents of a state to citizens of a country to even races of people. This practice can be found in the way the media portray black people, especially in early films.

In early films there was less accountability, diversity, and representation. Black people were stereotypically portrayed as uneducated, lazy, poor or barely getting by, obnoxious, confrontational, menaces to society, and looking for the white man to come and save the day, etc. This, without a doubt, had to have had an effect on Black children which passed down to their descendants. This has affected the way Black people see themselves and acknowledge their blackness. Negative representation causes Black people to not honor their blackness, but try and tame it, and blackness cannot be tamed, only honored. If the only time the media portrays black people is when that black person has light skin and loose curly hair, what is that saying to young black kids of all shades? That your blackness will never be appreciated enough to be represented and you should be apologetic for being born black. This practice only perpetuates colorism or shadism, which is the bias against different shades of black people.

Today in 2020, Black people, children and adults are still being affected by past generations’ mistakes and hatred. In some ways, positive representation of black people has gotten better, and in some ways it seems like things will never change. A lack of diversity and representation can be seen in the books children are supposed to read in their curriculum. In these books, Black people are always maids, living just above the poverty line, not able to speak standard English, and other stereotypes. I can genuinely say I’ve never read a mandatory book from my school with black people in it who weren’t referred to by the n-word. I’ve never read a mandatory book in school about black people in positions of power, or black people who can speak standard English. White people are the most represented race in the world.  It’s about time Black people are represented in more ways than just one. Black people come in many shades, not just light-skinned. Black people can speak standard English, they aren’t loud, they aren’t from urban neighborhoods, and they don’t just speak in ebonics. The media ought to challenge themselves. If they’re going to represent Black, represent it the way it is. There is not just one way to be black. Black is not about fitting in a box.