Rasicm In The Media Essay

2149 words - 9 pages

Mass media have played and will continue to play a crucial role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. As a result of the overwhelming media focus on crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior among African-Americans, the media have fostered a distorted and pernicious public perception of African-Americans. 1

The history of African-Americans is a centuries old struggle against oppression and discrimination. The media have played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to African-Americans' continuing status as second-class citizens. As a result, white America has suffered from a deep uncertainty ...view middle of the document...

Looking at American society we can clearly see the development of the two class system. There were slave owners and slaves, and racism served as a means to overpower the exploited class.

Segmentation Theory

In the 1980's, Michael Reich developed the Segmentation Theory or the Divide and Rule, which attempted to explain racism from an economic point of view. In this theory, Reich proposes that the ultimate goal in society is to maximize profits. As a result, the exploiters will attempt to use any means to: (1) suppress higher wages among the exploited class, (2) weaken the bargaining power of the working class, often by attempting to split it along racial lines, (3) promote prejudices, (4) segregate the black community, (5) ensure that the elite benefit from the creation of stereotypes and racial prejudices against the black community.

Reich argues that the major corporations in the U.S. (e.g. Time Warner, Coca Cola, General Motors, etc.) all have at least one member on each other's corporate boards of directors. As a result, it is in the interest of these members to maximize profits while employing the above devices. The mere fact of these corporate executives' sharing economic corporate power, combined with the quest for economic profit has now paved the way for economic discrimination. But the question still remains, is the media one of the tools used to promote racism? Does the elite use the media to ensure profits are maximized by corporations?

The U.S. Media And Racism

Media have divided the working class and stereotyped young African-American males as gangsters or drug dealers. As a result of such treatment, the media have crushed youths' prospects for future employment and advancement. The media have focused on the negative aspects of the black community (e.g. engaging in drug use, criminal activity, welfare abuse) while maintaining the cycle of poverty that the elite wants.

There are no universally accepted and recorded codes or rules, which apply to journalists in news selection and production. The media have devoted too much time and space to "enumerating the wounded" and too little time to describing the background problems of African-Americans. 4 What is not a crisis is not usually reported and what is not or cannot be made visual is often not televised. The news media respond quickly and with keen interest to the conflicts and controversies of racial stories. For the most part, they disregard the problems that seep beneath the surface until they erupt in the hot steam that is the "live" news story.

The Riots

The media have not studied important events in the African-American community today. Issues such as urbanization, education, poverty, and other elements have a significant bearing on positions of the black community. A good example of this is the media portrayal of the Los Angeles riot in 1992. What we witnessed in Los Angeles was the consequence of a lethal linkage of economic decline, cultural...

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