theyoungblackfeminist said: My sociology professor claimed that since Black people make up 13% of the American population, and Black people make up 15% of film/TV roles, then media representation is equal. Something about this doesn't sense to me, because I know the latter is not true. It's been picking my mind of weeks, but I can't come to it. Do you find something funny with this statement?
Your professor, like many, is sipping the White supremacist koolaid when it comes to media and this concerns me that anyone with a professorial position in Sociology would make this bullshit fall out of their mouth. I mean, the fact that it took 37 years for a Black woman to have a lead role on a network show again (Kerry Washington on Scandal) since the last show (Teresa Graves on Get Christy Love) should be a clue. And since Scandal, there’s only been a few more; no major changes.
The premise on its face is flawed. We are not discussing a census nor does television operate that way. The quality of representations matter, not solely if they allocate 2 Black people from each state to be on TV as if we are talking about the Senate LOL. Further, even if it made sense to refuse to show any more Black people on television than exist in the population, we live in a White supremacist society. The very depictions themselves are meant to reinforce Whiteness and present Whiteness as “the norm” with everything else as a deviation. And then think of character lineups on most shows. Who are the leads? Who are secondary? Which characters are fully developed beings on a show? Who has the most screen time? Who is the show named after? All of this points to Whiteness.
All characters do not exist equally on screen so that statistic the professor gave you is a diversion beyond moot.
And like…even now there are thirsty trolls probably reading this and waiting to name 4 examples as if that’s proof that institutions have changed. They haven’t even when audiences crave diversity. A handful of decent depictions amidst this sliver of space that we occupy within the media is not enough. Under the existing writing for most shows, even if more Black characters are added, they would still reinforce White supremacy. The writing itself would need to change, which I alluded to in Where Are The Black Writers Of Television Shows?
When people are marginalized in society, showing a marginalized depiction of them and numerically no more than the population that they occupy is not justice or even radical, it is status quo…that we had to fight to even get to! In other words, to get the pathetic depictions that we have now, that was a fight over radically more destructive ones from previous decades.
Just on main characters alone (because a Black person walking by as White people walking down the street are the focus of the show is NOT full representation), Alyssa over at ThinkProgress published what the population would look like if based on main characters of television: 3.8% would be Black women; 5% would be Black men. Both lower than our populations. Why would 50% be White men and 34% be White women? White men’s figure is significantly larger than the population they occupy; White women’s near the same. Further, who owns these networks? Who are most television writers? Who runs The Academy? Instead of really elementary statistical comparisons, your Sociology professor needs to do a better job and should know quality and perspective are relevant, not just quantities when it comes to something as subjective yet as powerful as media.
Hope this somewhat answers your question. Take care. ❤
(Side note for everyone else who reads my blog, why the fuck do professors like these get jobs that I couldn’t get if I wanted? Is this not continuously ludicrous? Question is rhetorical of course. Anyways…)
This morning, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in my typical Monday daze when I saw an enraged post from the amazing Precious Davis.
Precious was furious about a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed titled, “Laverne Cox is Not a Woman.” The column was picked up by ST from the National Review, whose readers would not be surprised to read such drivel. But as a Chicagoan who grew up on the Sun-Times and a former employee of the paper, I was pretty stunned.
The paper took a beating on social media today for the post, and rightfully so. The column is a rambling pile of transphobic, hateful nonsense. Pseudo-“science” and religious babbling. I would argue that even someone who shares the author’s views on trans people would struggle to understand it — just because it’s so poorly written.
If the paper does decide to respond to the post, I am assuming they will say something along the lines of, “our opinion pages aim to represent views from all people — conservative and liberal, gay and straight, whatever and blah blah blah.” But you know what? I don’t think that should fly anymore.
And you know what else? I don’t think the leader of a hate group should be quoted in ANY news story about trans people or the queer community in general for the sake of “balance.”
What sort of balance does hating someone for who they are provide?
As a queer journalist, I know that I’m perhaps more aware of these things than my straight counterparts. But when covering civil rights issues, there should be some ground rules - and journalists should be expected to know them. Even old school newspaper journalists who used to throw racial slurs around the office, eliciting a giggle and a wink from their favorite editor. Times have changed, pal, and it’s time you do too.
Back in November, I was following the Illinois gay marriage debate on NPR. I’m mincing garlic when I hear some asshat on the radio say something along the lines of, “homosexuals are an abomination.” ON NPR, YOU GUYS. The thing is, they were clearly just trying to find a voice of opposition to the gay marriage debate. When there are thousands of people holding up equality signs and hugging outside the state capital, they probably thought, “this story sounds a little too ‘rah rah gay rights,’ we better get some balance in there.”
But what balance is being provided here? When did misogynists get to stop telling reporters why women shouldn’t vote? When did racists stop being quoted when news organizations covered the desegregation of schools?
I was once told by a former coworker to “tone down” my support of gay marriage on social media. I laughed. First of all, did you seriously just ask me that? Have you ever met me? Secondly, I don’t think civil rights should be a partisan issue. I believe it’s a right or wrong issue.
As newsrooms still struggle to cover things like gay marriage or just non-traditional relationships in general, I get that figuring out how to cover trans issues could be overwhelming to a profession that is still overwhelmingly white and male.
Even within the LGBTQ community, there is infighting about evolving language when it comes to trans issues, but that doesn’t mean we should throw up our arms and say “screw it!”
News organizations should care about this stuff. They should be careful. They should realize that we are talking about human beings here. People who are just living their lives - and trying not to be hated, attacked or even killed for being who they are.
It’s our job to tell these stories, not to convince the world that we are apathetic about them.
The bizarre (by which I mean lazy) thing about the obsession with balance is that it seems to define itself as “same number of things from both sides,” rather than considering whether the divergent opinions balance one another. If one is a calm discussion of the history of transphobic and transmisogynistic oppression, the statistics on sexual violence, abuse, and murder of transwomen, etc., and the other is screaming “NOT A WOMAN!!!!!” then that is still not balanced just because one is positive and the other is negative. Degree of charge matters as well as direction of polarity.
Objectivity, or rather the cult thereof (since true objectivity is not and will never be achieved by pretty much anyone, let alone an entire class of people), really is a scourge of journalism and as a result of our political conversations. I sincerely think doing away with it would bring us a more honest, transparent, and fairer press. (Note that objectivity is not the same as being responsible in citing sources and covering all relevant facts. You can, in fact, have one without the other.)
Classic BBC shite, under the banner of “neutrality”.
There’s no neutrality on a moving train.
Just sharing this in case any of my followers would be interested in applying.
Please signal boost, this could be a fantastic opportunity for someone.
Reblogging again with a link because the link above doesn’t seem to work. They’re looking for a trans woman between around 20-40 (non-actors with the confidence to audition welcome, as well as those with acting experience), and it’s one episode of a new 8 part series by Russell T Davies, to be filmed between 9th June and 8th July in Manchester, England.