Live media literate.

Join Understand Media to get access to our forums, the latest media literacy news, member-only articles, early access to our journals, and much more.

We will never give your info to anyone!

By Sophia H.

Dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries, race related issues have remained relevant in our society. During this time period African Americans were fighting for their rights to freedom after a significantly long journey of subjection to brutal oppression and discrimination. The only way in which we even know about any of these events is through the media. In the 19th century, the kind of technology that exists now was not available but people’s journals and news castings were feeding the public all the information they needed regarding the ongoing issue of racism. Mostly everyone has a general idea of the racial prejudice of this time, however, the effects of racism on today’s younger generations have proved the issue’s maintained relevance in our current society.
   
One might think that at this point in society we wouldn’t have to consider the existence of racial discrimination. Especially not with younger generations, because of how much desegregation has been enforced since the African Americans gained their freedom. This is why it is so interesting to see how racial issues still dominate the minds of younger individuals and how our nations deemed “progress” in combatting the race issue does not necessarily mean the issue has been eliminated altogether. The future of society is in large part a reflection of what the current generation makes out of it.             Through the media we see a lot of racial diversification in magazines, on Facebook, or on TV. By projecting this falsified image of racial diversity through the media, people believe that racial equality has been satisfied throughout society. The media heavily influences individual beliefs about controversial issues present in society. People tend to believe what they see online or on TV. If an individual visually witnesses racial diversity on their television screen, they tend to believe that this fiction coincides with reality. Essentially, society is duped by what is displayed on television or online. Most people like to think we live in a society where racial equality is embraced, but the reality is the issue still persists and it is the responsibility of the younger generations to advocate for such equality in order for it to progress.

According to USA Today, 22-year old Izabelle Denize says, “I don't think (racism) ever left…I think with every decade it transforms into something really different. For our generation you have these criminal justice issues. Before, in the '50s you had Jim Crow. ... I think every generation, it does look a little different."

With the advent of today’s technology, the media is able to capture every mediocre or massive event regarding racial discrimination in our current society. For example, a few weeks back there was a huge riot protesting against a Kanye West themed sorority party at UCLA. According to the NY Daily, “Some of the ‘Kanye Western’ party-goers also smeared charcoal smeared on their foreheads, sparking massive backlash on campus during UCLA's welcome week for black students…” Following this event, hundreds of students were protesting such behavior on the UCLA campus, advocating against such racial discrimination.

The fact that this event was captured and carefully documented on the media in the matter of hours after it occurred gave way to immediate public response. This type of immediate feedback is vital to the progress of certain societal topics, predominantly the issue of race. The advent of the media allows for immediate debate on an issue. It allows for people’s opinions to be heard and enables them to argue during the most pivotal time of a story’s publication. In other words the media allows for people to debate a topic while the story is most relevant.

Due to the media’s rapid involvement in this case, individual students who were affected by the prejudice behavior of the UCLA scandal were able to speak up and vocalize their concern. Student Hanan Worku said, "Never have I been so disappointed to be a UCLA student in the 3 years that I have been here…A frat decided it would be okay to have their members repeat a part of history that demoralized, mocked and dehumanized African Americans. And celebrate while doing it!"

In the past, members of the black community didn’t have as much access to media attention. This was mostly because they hadn’t attained enough rights to have such access to broadcasters and newscasters. Additionally, the type of technology needed for mass coverage wasn’t accessible to them. The media plays an extremely important role in recognizing the racial issue today because without it most people wouldn’t really even be aware that discrimination still exists. Due to the fact that racial prejudice isn’t as widespread as it used to be, people inevitably assume that the issue isn’t as prominent as it actually is.

According to USA Today, 16-year-old Nailah Richards says, "As a generation, we don't acknowledge color, but we know that the race problem is still there…we don't really pay attention to it, but we know it's there."

Society needs online articles and television coverage of such stories in order to fuel our knowledge about relevant topics such as race. The reason the issue of racism still exists today is because society as a whole has not made enough of an effort to suppress the minor incidents of discrimination that are currently present in society, such as the incident on UCLA’s campus. This should be a top priority for most people because the future of our nation is dependent upon the progress we make now. If the issue cannot presently be combatted, it will escalate and prevent the success of our forever evolving nation. In spite of our current state, the media does largely contribute to the public’s current attention on the existing racial oppression and functions as a major source in the nation’s progress to attain racial equality. If it weren’t for the media, most people wouldn’t be working towards change regarding this particular issue.

Works Cited

•    Toppo, Gregg. "Growing up 'post-racial,' Teens Suddenly Find a World That Isn't." Www.usatoday.com. USA Today, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

•    Goldberg, David Theo. "Why "Black Lives Matter" Because All Lives Don't Matter in America." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

•    Chan, Melissa. "UCLA Fraternity, Sorority under Fire for Kanye-themed Party." NY Daily News. NY Daily, 8 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.