The United States of America can be defined by many titles, but one that it is most known for is the “melting pot.” As a host of countless nationalities, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, and more; America’s true defining factor is our disruptive and innovative environment. Although many people reside in our country’s lands, there has been a huge discourse over the political tension, racism, and discrimination against ethnic groups in recent US history. According to Pilar Kaltzada, a writer for the Coppieters Foundation, diversity is an important and incredibly influential component of hope in times of conflict, inequality, and poverty. In hopes of creating a better future for all of our children, diversity and inclusion should be a component and factor that is integrated into every part of the media.
The history of inequality and a lack of diversity in media stems from decades of a Caucasian-dominance preference of entertainment and media. Based on research from Bernard Berelson, the founding father of content analysis, “white, Protestant, Anglo-Saxons” were consistently treated better from a quantitative and qualitative perspective compared to their minority counterparts. This minority counterpart group includes American Negros, Jews, Mexicans, Italians, Asians, and even Irish Americans. It wasn’t until institutions began to realize the impacts of media and how it can affect and develop interracial and intercultural relationships, that increased representation was going to be needed in the future.
As time went on, minorities began to appear in the media. Figures such as Oprah, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson began to represent minority groups that didn’t have such an opportunity before. They began to re-shape media due to their increasing popularity and in effect, people from under-represented minority groups (URMs) began to show their faces in the media. In recent history, two films out of many have been denoted for their incredible impact on racial representation in current media – Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. These two movies have been dubbed as major milestones for African Americans and Asians for their powerful presence and impact on these communities.
A part of their success can be indirectly explained due to the increasing frustration and barriers to entry for these groups as mainstream media consistently has put white individuals on the screen. According to Time Magazine, a powerful moment was displayed as people who were invited to a screening of Black Panther were requested to were formal gear, only to arrive in traditional African fabrics and displayed their natural hair. The New York Film Academy, commented on the groundbreaking film, highlighting their disruptiveness as many Asian roles in history has been cast by Caucasian actors. As we can see, the reign of a Caucasian-ruled media industry has begun to realize that the demographics of their audience are shifting and in effect, so should they.
Many individuals have denoted how much diversity in media has impacted their mindsets and goals. A writer for Thrive Global, Daniela, writes a community blog centered around diversity. She explains how finishing Jane the Virgin, a light-hearted tv show has inspired her and motivates her to reach her goals simply based on the diversity and representation that was in the cast. Traditionally, media has been comprised of heterosexual and Caucasian individuals. Unrepresentative of her communities she was blown away by the importance of the diversity of the casts in the new tv shows she was seeing. With so many different backgrounds in the United States, more should be shown in the media to reflect these differences.
Another aspect of a lack of diversity in media lies in the opposition and the perspectives of the opposing side. Despite the increasing desire for more representation in our world and media, many people still hold racist sentiments that wish to restrict minority groups and their influence on the world. Although the Trump support group is not noted as a racist group, many members of their community hold white-supremacist ideals. According to D.D. Guttenplan, a writer for TheNation, he denotes how black reporters are being intimidated and discouraged to cover the presidential race, explaining how terrifying it was and how she didn’t want to cite her name or network in the case the work was published. Such a barricade exists for many communities; another seen in the Middle-Eastern community. Even before the 9/11 attacks, Arabs were described as “villains and terrorists” in the Hollywood blockbuster “True Lies” in 1994 (Nittle.) The constant portrayal of minority groups in stereotypical limelight has affected how the world perceives them and they have to face the repercussions and consequences of someone else’s doing. In order to mitigate this issue, more institutions and government policies should disincentivize this behavior and encourage the deconstruction of this stereotype and promote minority groups in a diverse set of environments, behaviors, and positions.
Despite such hardships in today’s current world, journalists, actors, actresses, and anyone wishing to pursue a career in media should not be discouraged to follow their dreams. According to a McKinsey and Company report, diversity in the workplace is profoundly important. A quantitative perspective shows success, analyzing 1,000 companies in 12 countries, highlighting their increases in profit, value-creation, and betterment in the community. In order to create a better world for the following generations after us, increasing representation is needed to better inspire them and to encourage to follow a good path.
Daniela. “The Power of Diversity in the Media.” Thrive Global, 30 Aug. 2017, thriveglobal.com/stories/human-diversity-in-the-media/.
Guttenplan, D.D. “Media Companies Are (Still) Failing When It Comes to Diversity.” The Nation, 15 Aug. 2019, www.thenation.com/article/media-diversity-nabj-2019/.
Hunt, Vivian, et al. “Delivering through Diversity.” McKinsey & Company, Jan. 2018, www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity.
Kaltzada, Pilar. “Why Diversity in Media Matters.” Coppieters Foundation, 5 Nov. 2018, ideasforeurope.eu/news/diversity-and-media/.
Larrazet, Christine, and Isabelle Rigoni. “Media and Diversity: A Century-Long Perspective on an Enlarged and ...” InMedia. The French Journal of Media Studies, Institut Du Monde Anglophone, 17 Sept. 2014, journals.openedition.org/inmedia/747.
Nam, Yoommy. “Asian Representation in Film: The Impact of 'Crazy Rich Asians'.” New York Film Academy, 24 Jan. 2019, www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/asian-representation-crazy-rich-asians/.
Nittle, Nadra Kareem. “A Look at Common Muslim and Arab Stereotypes in TV and Film.” ThoughtCo, 23 June 2019, www.thoughtco.com/tv-film-stereotypes-arabs-middle-easterners-2834648.
Smith, Jamil. “How Marvel's Black Panther Marks a Major Milestone.” Time, Time, time.com/black-panther/.