By Amy T.
Media plays a huge role in shaping the way we view and think about current events. The news headlines are worded perfectly to trigger encoded reactions from the viewers. We all know the story by now of Michael Brown in Ferguson that caused an enraged chain reaction of outcry across the country. There have been plenty of shootings like Michael Brown’s in the past but what made this shooting prominent was the media surrounding the shooting, with the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and media coverage, the shooting of Michael Brown changed the face of policing in America and it’s discriminatory nature. Media played a huge role in the events that followed Michael Brown’s shooting. The now infamous town of Ferguson, Missouri faced racial backlash. Both peaceful and violent protests erupted. The story of Michael Brown deeply affected race relations in America, the history of racism in this country that was thought of as long gone, now reemerged and brought to light a disguised racial prejudice the African American and minority communities still feel today. Like journalist for The Washington Post and TIME Darlena Cunha reports “by ignoring the very real issues this country still faces in terms of race to promote an as-of-yet imaginary colorblind society, we contribute to the problem at hand, which is centuries of abuses lobbied against other humans on no basis but that of their skin color.” By ignoring the topic of race in turn negatively impacts race relations in America. Media shapes the way we view our society, and in light of all the shootings with unarmed minority individuals, media is helping change police tactics and putting light on racial profiling and policing in America.
The media coverage on police brutality, particularly those involving white police officers and African American victims causes for concern in our society. We often turn a blind eye when it comes to the topic of race in America. A past that we as a country often feel the need to redeem, is put silent and often ignored in media, only when there is an incident involving questionable policing is the topic of race talked about. As a society we have an obligation to have an honest and open conversation about race relations in America, simply ignoring the topic will continue to sprout racial policing in America. According to M.L. Stein on “Racial Stereotyping by The Media”, Stein reports a study conducted by News Watch, which indicates “mass media coverage of people of color to be filled with old stereotypes and minorities are often ignored in news except for certain categories; notably crime”. Mass media highlights crimes committed by minorities, this tactic subconsciously allows the viewers to believe minorities’ connotation with crime. As a society we have an obligation to uphold the truth, and relinquish old stereotypes. Advanced technology and up to date media is allowing for our own investigative journalism and is allowing us to speak our own experiences without the newsroom. As citizens, we should care about racial profiling and policing in America to the interest of our rights and our culture. Ignoring the issue of policing in America will not make the problem of racial profiling go away.
We’re now in an age of a new disguised racism in the form of policing. Mass media erupts racial tension between the African American community and white police officers. The cause however brings light to the many injustices and prejudice white police officers commit to minorities. The purpose behind mass media and fueling racial tension is questioning authority and motives of our law enforcement. Duke University Sociology Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva states, “We are not post-racial” and this idea that prejudice against African Americans is no longer “is suave but deadly”. As Bonilla-Silva states a new kind of racism has emerged, one that is silent and “color-blind”. We are starting to see there is a racism that is not talked about with policing in America. Media is helping shift color-blindness as an issue to be nationally discussed.
Police fueling racial tension is not new, journalist Alyssa Katz in The National critiques the show Brooklyn South as the same old story told over and over again on TV and news which criminalizes black people as “a familiar enough concept for the news”, this was in 1997, and 18 years later thanks to a heightened social media and mass media are we seeing huge backlash of police brutality and racially fueled violence against minorities. The story of black victims being unarmed is one all too familiar but it is with social media that more and more audience are starting to see that this has been going on for too long.
Mass media is fueled with race affirmed stories and the connotations associated with the minority population causes a great deal of concern for race relations in America. For so long have we seen African Americans as the criminals and police as a form of justice and law, but there is a shift occurring; with the help of social media, camera phones, and mass media news coverage, there is a new spotlight on police brutality and a race fueled criminalizing law system.
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Cunha, Darlena. “Ferguson: In Defense of Rioting.” Time. Time, 25 Nov. 2014. Web.
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