How Does Media Today Play a Role in Stereotyping Racial Groups?


In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Race Relations in America

Community Studies 111

December 19, 2001

Television media still portray stereotypes of different races in today\'s society, leaving viewers with a pre-conceived notion of where each race falls within society. This gives viewers a negative outlook on races different from their own. Within this paper we will discuss the stereotypes portrayed within the television medium, the news, children\'s shows and sitcoms. We will also discuss ways to perhaps help the problem and offer a few solutions.

Racism is indeed alive in the media. When researching about how media portrays different stereotypes we found many different articles. One that we came across stated, "Last week Saturday, a young pretty well-known black woman was shot five times in central Sunnyside Pretoria by her boyfriend, in daylight. The story never made it to the papers, not even the Pretoria News. What it was a white woman?" (Racism in the media…) This makes you think of how our society views other races besides the European Americans. The article, Racism in the Media is real and alive, also states that," It is an open secret that editors push issues that concern their white readers more than the promotion of culture in their neighboring townships. They do not care what happens in the black people\'s lives." "Give them a little bit of soccer on the back page, we have to sell the paper," is the attitude.

First we will look at the news media as a whole. When it comes to news media, the racial profiles projected are indirectly related to punitive public policies, thus giving the mainstream news media the "out" of deniability. When the news media over represents black people in the category that is at issue, the issue becomes "black," stigmatized, linked to some form of always-justified politically punishing behavior, and, in turn, further racialized. By looking at the ways in which the mainstream news media has covered (or failed to cover) several recent studies/stories involving the news media and race, we can begin to get a better understanding of this practice of racial profiling as it relates to the news media. The role of the news media in promoting racial stereotypes was the missing link between the two studies. Even when Nightline (3/18/98) began its coverage of the story with the acknowledgement that, when it came to the issue of drug addiction and drug policy in the U.S., "most Americans get their information from the news media." "Crime is violent and criminals are nonwhite." The real revelation, however, was that television viewers were so accustomed to seeing African-American crime suspects on the local news that even when the race of a suspect was not specified, viewers tended to remember seeing a black suspect. Moreover, when researchers used digital technology to change the race of certain suspects as they appeared on the screen, a little over half of those who saw the "white" perpetrator recalled his race, but two-thirds did when the criminal was depicted as black. "Ninety percent of false recognitions involved African-Americans and Hispanics." Due to the recent events of September 11th the media has impacted people\'s aspects of what and Arab-American looks like and has stereotyped them as terrorists. When seeing an Arab-American in daily life people automatically label them as terrorists; and don\'t see anything beyond that, such as what type of person this particular Arab-American is.

In my research I found that children\'s programs have the highest percent of racially diverse characters. One in particular show is Sesame Street. Sesame Street has been called the multicultural utopia. Any interracial family would be right at home among a rainbow colored sea of monster fur and human flesh. We\'d all learn how to rejoice in the respective colors of our skin (or fur). Loretta Long, an actress on Sesame Street called it the "first cross-cultural enlightenment." Sesame Street has one of the longest-running African-American characters in television history. Modern society could stand to learn a lesson from what the narrow-minded would consider \'under-evolved\' creatures: Just because we don\'t look the same doesn\'t mean we can\'t sing together. "A few years ago we revisited how we look at racial issues and an expert came in and