Reclaiming Our Space: POCs in the Media Industry

The power of media should not be dismissed. It is the media that decides who is who and who is not. It is the media…

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The power of media should not be dismissed. It is the media that decides who is who and who is not. It is the media that formulates our perspective. It is the media that shapes the foundation for our society. With that said, wouldn’t it make sense for everyone to be represented correctly? The issue with media is that the people in charge of formulating these “standards” of perspective, do not own that perspective. There are countless movies, television shows, magazine covers, and music that claim to represent the masses when, in reality, it is only a representation (if that) of a small fraction of a singular group of people. Generalizing a large group into basic stereotypes is at the heart of racial and cultural tension and misunderstanding. As people of color, I think it’s time we reclaim our space.

The phrase “For Us, By Us,” originally coined by the FUBU brand, cannot better epitomize the concept of this reclamation. In order to ensure the media accurately portrays us, we must seize control over the media. The key is ownership. We must be present when decisions concerning how we are going to be depicted are made. We must be present when actors show up to casting calls and the criterion for these roles are racially and culturally binding. We must be present when lyrics are written about us to ensure we are represented in a positive light. We must be present when models are hand-picked to guarantee that melanin is not a deciding factor. We must be present. This is how we claim our space; by being there and actively being there.

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With the advancement of technology, it is much easier today to create media. Online platforms are the perfect venues to reaching a wide audience. Videography, photography, journalism, and musical talents can all be implemented through the Internet and spread globally. Most recently, television has taken a turn towards progress. The premiere of “Black-ish,” a family show starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson, explores the concept of raising children with a rich sense of culture despite the pressures of modern-day society. Producer, Larry Wilmore, strives to create a script that, although pertains to a black family, can be relatable to any culture. “Dear White People,” set to premiere on October 17, is a satire centered on the idea of being a black scholar at a predominately white institution. These forms of media are not only produced by people of color, but discuss issues that pertain to their cultural identities. They generate conversation; a conversation that is all too often pushed under the rug. Uncomfortable as it may be, we are striving to be present and we are striving to be represented.

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In order for people of color to finally be characterized positively and accurately in the media, people of color have to have full control over these images and representations. Once we are well received by the media, we will thus be well received in society. In this day and age, media is at the root of our perspective. How we see each other is a reflection of what we see through media. We will be judged and generalized regardless. In order for humanitarian progression to be made, these judgments and generalization should be accurate depictions of who we really are, not some else’s idea of who we are.

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