Tag: TV

How Media Perpetuates Racism (My Experience on TV)

blackness, media, racism, society October 11, 2020

This one is for anyone who seeks to understand more about how media works, and especially for the folks naive enough to believe the things they heard in a certain TV appearance I did around this time last year.

Being made into a caricature for a corporations gain is one of the nastiest experiences I’ve ever had, but I’m still here. it’s been hard reading the comments, peeping tweets, and knowing that even the people who you’ve been open with can so easily believe things they see on TV. so now, I’m having the final word, showing receipts, and using research to discuss how media has historically aimed to paint Black people and POC in a damaging light.

I’ve wanted to make this video for some time but honestly, the things that I’ve learned as of late, and some relationships had to end in or can go on and on about how racist society is and always has been, but that means nothing without identifying the structures in place and how they’re used by different entities, starting and ending with: media

I want to talk about my portrayal by a TV network who I won’t name, but if you need a hint, they’re most recent award show failed to garner more views than Brandy and Monica’s Verzuz battle.

I am saddened that it is still the norm for media to depict Black people–especially Black women, in ways that are detrimental to their public reception; and so I’m offering some analysis on the research behind that, in addition to my own experience.

I want to start this off by saying that the emotional labor I did to be part of this experience was beyond anything I’ve ever done for content, but I am never a victim, just a person with a lot of stories to tell. This is my truth, and some insider information, and since I’ll still be questioned for it, I, again, have done research on top of having lived experiences I can reference.

Let’s jump in by figuring out how media’s influence affects the way people of other races view and interact with each other:

How Racial Stereotypes in Popular Media Affect People — and What Hollywood Can Do to Become More Inclusive | Scholars Strategy Network

  • Nancy Yang Wuen’s report, HOW RACIAL STEREOTYPES IN POPULAR MEDIA AFFECT PEOPLE — AND WHAT HOLLYWOOD CAN DO TO BECOME MORE INCLUSIVE, found that “beyond specific effects on particular groups of viewers, racial images packaged as entertainment can skew the way all viewers understand and categorize people.”
  • And, “the media’s tendency to fuel racial misperceptions can contribute to public support for harsher punishments for people of color.”
  • My experience:
    • Imagine just trying to de stress and seeing the character who looks like you always being disrespected and shat on the way Hilary Duff was by her stepmother in A Cinderella Story. IMAGINE! That’s my life as a BW, and it’s constant because of how much media I consume.
    • It’s not surprising that, “prolonged television exposure predicts a decrease in self-esteem for all girls and for black boys, but an increase in self-esteem for white boys. These differences correlate with the racial and gender practices in Hollywood, which predominantly casts white men as heroes, while erasing or subordinating other groups as villains, sidekicks, and sexual objects.”

My own experience on TV consisted of being villainized, and made into a welfare queen, who somehow, someway, asked to borrow $100k to pay for a grad program that costs €13,800 or approximately $16,169.53. 

So…how did we get there? Where? When? Why that portrayal? Racism.

  • Other things that I saw, in hindsight, was that they sought to use used for white character’s development
    • Being asked to “teach my friend why it was wrong of her to vote for this dangerously, incompetent president.” I, the person who experiences racism in their everyday life in some form or fashion, needs to make myself available to do more emotional labor??
      • How about this person looks in the mirror? How about this person considers why it’s wrong to vote for an overt racist? How is helping her do either of those thing my burden?
    • I’m unsure if the producers also positioned one of the hosts, another Black woman, to criticize me for not doing more emotional labor for a white woman, or if she put herself up to that, but either way, it was disgusting. Nonetheless, she still stepped into that role to “do her job,” so there’s still accountability to be had here. 
    • Now that I think of it, this experience consisted of not one, but two Black women criticizing me for not “teaching my friend wrong from right,” more or less. You can figure out the other one, she was a news anchor, I really respected her then, but now…that’s another story.
    • It’s not uncommon to see Black women playing this role: which invites the white gaze to share in that criticism, then reinforcing the idea that it’s ok for white people to not just form these opinions, but to rely them. It also serves to absolve white people of white guilt…“Yeah…I voted for T*um* too, why is it so bad to sTaRt A cOnVeRsAtIoN about it instead of cutting me out of your life? I voted for someone who was open about their hatred for you during their campaign, and now has cemented that hate into various harmful policies, but, like, aren’t we friends? Don’t friends talk??”
      • There are so many examples of this in the mainstream: Oprah, unfortunately, has done this to many Black women, namely, Toni Braxton:
      • This feels way too familiar. The gaslighting. The cruelty. It’s upsetting to watch.

But, let’s back up and talk about how these trends have been used in media from its very inception:

A report by NARISSRA M. PUNYANUNT-CARTER shows that historically, “media often portrays African Americans in occupational roles, such as servants, a crooks, cooks, an entertainer, a musician, a sad non-White person, an exhibitionist, an athlete, or a corrupt individual.”

“Black females were typically perceived as low achievers and white females were typically perceived as less dominant than Black female counterparts. She also discovered that the viewers’ perception of a white character on a Black program, such as The Jeffersons was not positive. Reid argued that such perceptions regarding Black and white females are due to the stereotypic images that are portrayed on television.”

“Performing a content analysis of 139 television series, Donagher et al. (1975) found that… white people were more likely to be victims than Black people.”

“Cultivation theory states that our perceptions of reality are ‘‘cultivated’’ or developed by what we view in the media (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1986); it offers an explanation for the way individuals organize social reality and make social judgments of the world (Perse, 1986). 

Punyunant-Carter also states that “cultivation theory is also the basis for the expectation that media exposure is linked to perceptions of African Americans; it also shows that there is no linear relationship between television and its viewers; rather, it is a continuous process among messages and contexts.”

…Meaning that “watching television is unique to the individual because of certain lifestyles and cultural norms. In other words, one television program may make a person cry, but the same program can encourage a person to kill. At the same time, cultivation is based on individuals’ perceptions of realism of television portrayals.”

Ask yourself…do I believe that what I see on TV is indicative of real life? Or, can I not believe everything on TV because it is not indicative of real life? That will help you determine your perception of realism of TV portrayals.

A report titled “The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change,” study by Catherine Happer and Greg Philo found, “media also severely limit the information with which audiences understand [social] issues and that alternative solutions to political problems are effectively removed from public debate. We found other evidence of the way in which media coverage can operate to limit understanding of possibilities of social change.”

“In summary, many programs do not display Black people in very positive roles (Greenberg & Brand, 1994). Instead, African American portrayals on tele- vision often focus more on reaffirming negative stereotypes (Rada, 2000). Yet, the media shape and influence public perceptions of African Americans.”

Takeaway: everything we see on TV is formulated to fit an agenda that is rarely rooted in truth, but to get ratings.

If you’ve watched Paris Hilton’s documentary, you see her openly admit to playing a caricature of herself on “reality TV,” and that’s exactly what that enter landscape is: a bunch of different caricatures operating in settings meant to dupe viewers into believing.

Why? Ratings! When you have high ratings you can sell people stuff on a large scale, and even if it’s complete crap, they’ll buy it. That’s the point of going on reality TV to sell people tangible items or ideas.

And outside of reality TV, we naively think that things get better when realistically, even your local news channels operate on a formula, let alone your mainstream news: they prioritize coverage on natural disasters or scandals, any crime that can be sensationalized, and the obscure are prioritized. No where on that list is the aim to inform, so I’ll let you decide what priority that takes. All I can say is, don’t fall for the bait.

25 Things I Learned Before My 25th Birthday

events, happiness, life, love, me August 9, 2020

As of yesterday, I am twenty-five years old.

It wasn’t a particularly Earth-shattering event, in fact, I’m currently waking up in the same bedroom I was dreaming in, crying in, and generally, being bratty as fuck in from age 10 to 18 . It has been a cool 7 years since I’ve experienced the stillness (and mania) that comes with this long of a stay at your childhood home (but I am enjoying the perks, like the six-layer, rainbow, explosion cake that my mom made me.)

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And with that comes a lot of time to reflect on how I’ve spent my life, where I’m at, and where I’m heading.

Here are 25 things I’ve learned about life:

  1. Treat yourself like an asset with appreciating value. You are your longest relationship, so treat yourself kindly for the long haul! Furthermore, not treating yourself this way just increases the likelihood that others also won’t show you the respect you deserve.
  2. Trust in the divine, and your angels. No matter what that divine looks like for you, they’ll never lead you astray. My God is a faceless, nameless God that I believe in without books, or any other rhyme, or reason; my faith has been tested on several occasions, and I’m happy to know that my God is very much so walking with me through this life.
  3. Cut all the bullshit, and expeditiously! Call yourself on your own crap (limiting beliefs, biases, and unhelpful habits), cut out fake friends, lousy partners, and unsupportive family. You cannot reform anyone’s hateration other than your own, so when you see that someone’s heart isn’t in a place that feels good to you, leave, and expeditiously!
  4. What’s in your head and what’s in your heart will always take you farther than what’s in your bank account.
  5. Celebrate who you are–especially if you’re seen as “other” within your community. Your mind, your heart, and your vision are very needed in this world.
  6. Don’t second guess yourself, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you should start doing so.
  7. Set BIG (and sometimes, seemingly unrealistic) goals; go for what your heart truly wants–it always knows.
  8. ….THEN, pair that with setting achievable mini goals. Whether it takes you 2 days, 2 years, or 2 decades, your big goals can happen when you commit to working towards them little by little, every. single. day.
  9. Stay curious about yourself, others, and human nature. Nothing stays the same; allow that to excite you, not terrify you.
  10. LOVE LIKE IT’S GOING OUT OF STYLE. This goes for all kinds of love, not just romantic!!! There is SO much love to experience in the world, keep your heart open to giving and receiving it whenever you can.Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
  11. …BUT, give your love with discernment. Loving people unconditionally is unrealistic because healthy relationships, whether they’re romantic, platonic, or familial, are reciprocal.
  12. Express yourself with your entire chest. Do not say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t have the courage say to their face; my mom taught me this at a young age and it has helped me avoid A LOT of conflict.
  13. You *really* don’t have to be friends with everyone. And honestly, you really can’t be because not everyone can offer you the same support.
  14. Give without expectation. Whether it’s a good deed, a monetary donation, or your freakin’ heart, pour from a cup that is full.
  15. Tell people how you really feel, always. You owe it to yourself to be transparent about your feelings, no matter if they’re reciprocated or not.
  16. Validate yourself on YOUR standards. What makes a good life is wholly subjective; believe in your vision and your vision alone.
  17. Most things are black and white, but the grey area is OK too. Sometimes just accepting things as they are is all you can do.
  18. Give your time and energy to people who celebrate you. Without question, no matter what–even when they don’t completely understand your life.
  19. ACCEPT YOUR FUCKING BODY. It is beautiful the way it is, no matter how “other” you are. Having a body that does what you need it to do (contain your insides) is much more important than how it looks.Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
  20. Your words have energy. Everything that you say is possible and can become true. Seriously! My grandma and I watched Oprah most days after school, and she always said, “T, I wanna see you on TV one day,” and it just so happened that I shared that vision for myself too. I kept believing in it–no idea when, or even how it would happen, but I kept putting energy behind it, declaring it, and shaking the hands I felt would lead me to it. Then, BOOM, 3 TV appearances later, I do not mess around with what comes out of my mouth. There’s no room for negativity, or speaking out of anger.
  21. Have some tact!!! Churchill was a real POS, but he told 0 lies when he said “tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
  22. Failure is just an illusion if you look at each one as a lesson, and give yourself some grace. Perfection IS an illusion, and nothing will change that.
  23. Taking accountability will improve your quality of life in every sense. It will not kill you to admit that you’ve been wrong (I have), have hurt others (who hasn’t?), and need to look in the mirror (it’s part of life.)
  24. Stay playful. Life is everything and nothing all at once; it’s tiring, yet fleeting, but we are here to make the most of it. Keep laughing, loving, and accepting the lessons learned from the bad days, because better days are always coming.
  25. You will find someone who loves everything about you, but before then, the universe will send you lots of riff raff. As my Angel Reader, Ivette, says, “focus on having an abundant, joy-filled life, first and foremost, and the right person will be happy to join you for every inch of that journey.”

In conclusion:

All the glory onto God;
I will never be ungrateful.
God blessed me in real life;
I don't fear demons nor enemies.
I'm protected by the most high.

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