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Racism as defined by mass media

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Introduction

Communication Studies 203 Research Paper Due Date: November 27, 2003 Oscar H. Gandy Jr. defines racism as, "the process of exercising power or seeking to exercise power with regard to people defined by identifying them as a member of a particular race."1 Racism and race stem from the identity one puts onto certain groups of individuals based on their colour. The identity that one forms is acquired from a number of places including parents, religion, school, government and, on today's youth, mainly mass media such as television and music. In this essay one will focus on the influence that mass media has on our identity position of race. It is obvious that all forms of print and electronic media, from news media to books, films, television, radio, and all other forms of media collectively represent our image of ourselves.2 The focus for the purpose of this essay will be on news media, television and music, being the most influential forms of media, while focusing on the youth of today, being the easiest to influence. News media has great power in influencing how people identify themselves by how they are represented on the. The stereotypes that television has shown, are viewed by many young individuals of colour, and are portraying how their race is viewed upon among society. Music has the greatest influence on young African-Americans, which view their idols as those shown in music videos. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas, when they are successful, rich and intellectual, the show is considered to be dramatic and viewed as being realistic. African-American characters are rarely presented as being poor, lazy and unintelligent, but always rich and successful, such as 'The Cosby Show' and 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air', and are always meant to be comical, but never taken seriously or realistically. Shows like these influence African-American children that their race is not taken seriously and are viewed as being humorous. This would affect a young African-American's thinking is a sense that he is suppose to be a comedian. Many television shows give minority actors, minority roles. Taxi drives in most sitcoms are always non-white, grocery store workers and gas station attendants are always non-white, in shows such as 'Seinfeld'. Although these sitcoms are not suppose to be taken realistic, young individuals of all races are more likely to associate positive characteristics with Caucasian characters and negative characteristics with minority characters. Sitcoms and other television shows have the ability to alter these perceptions, but continue to stereotype minorities. Still focusing upon the children of today, because they have great faith in the media's power and it's potential to influence them. Media can teach children that people of their race are important.8 If television had shows, which evenly distributed the role of characters to all races featuring equality and diversification, they can accomplish sending a message of the importance of all races. ...read more.

Conclusion

Music styles define the crowds and cliques they run in. Music personalities provide models for how they act and dress.12 This states that music alters our perception of ourselves and what we should be and how we should act. Our identity is affected and changed according to music videos. Rap videos show African-American singers as doing drinking, smoking, having naked women around them and treating them inappropriately and this is how African-American youth thinks they should act, instead musicians need to send an suitable message out to the youth of today. Also, other races will feel that this is how African-Americans act and will treat them accordingly. Many African-American rappers have lyrics, which are against authority and this influences others alike to perceive the same thoughts. Everyone of every race has an identity they'd like to call their own. But this identity is usually not their own and influenced by many sources, especially mass media. From music to television to news media, the influence these have on the children of today is immense. Music, television and news media, collectively with other mass medium, have the ability to alter one's perceptions of oneself and the characteristics of others. Race has always been a touchy subject because of its sensitivity and although I am a person of colour, I may have made some stereotypical comments of both whites and non-whites, but I did so only with the intent of making my point. Mass media reflects what we think we are and influences what we think we should be. ...read more.

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