The Importance of Representation
Why Representation Is So Important
What words come to mind when thinking of the term representation? Inclusion, debate? Perhaps getting a point across of a one sided story. The term itself, is a constant source of controversy. Overlooking the work and achievements of many black artists. Without representation, we are demoting ourselves of being informed correctly. For people of color who are underrepresented in mass media this is very important.
Such a term when minority groups in mass media has a powerful education impact. Mass media alone can be a very powerful force, with a powerful result on those who know little to nothing on individuals of the minority group. How we as a people are viewed and how we even view ourselves is an influence from the media. Abrasive representations viewed by audiences with seldom exposure to those outside their community associate this with the real world. Leading to lower likelihood of being employed, harsh sentencing, and decreased odds of receiving a loan. This is a reoccurring narrative for black men with a heavy impact. The product of being disadvantaged, foolish, and criminals equate to tarnished self-esteem and stress.
Who America Is + Isn't
In a 2012 study, an observation at representation on TV and its impact on youth self esteem had similar findings. In a survey of almost 400 African American and Caucasian boys and girls, research found that the only demographic that didn't experience low self esteem were white boys. Pointing towards racial stereotypes and how black characters were portrayed.
Black male characters: Unruly. Buffoons.
Black female characters: Sexually available and exotic.
White Boys: Positive in nature.
Reflecting on what we see on television, white individuals are portrayed as well off. Or the American citizen living the American dream. But when we ponder on this, where is the face of color in this immaculate dream? The problem is that there isn't or little room for such a face. Blazing the trail for empowerment through positive impacts and images are important. Especially for our youth that need such empowerment and expression of self ferocity. In the words Dania Gurira, actress from Black Panther "...you don't have to fall into anyone elses ideology of what you can be".