One of the largest issues in society today is, perhaps, racism. Frances Kurtenbach, a friend of mine, recently created a presentation addressing the issues of racism in media, so the topic is quite fresh in my mind. Interestingly enough, she didn’t have to use many sources for racism in common media – only the television and internet in her household! Its quite a scary thought that the best examples of racism are at our very fingertips. One of the most recent (and extreme) examples are of the 2013 Miss America pageant. Several articles online have both more details on the story and examples of really racist tweets.
Frances is in an ECS101 class, which has a large focus on racism in classrooms. She used a basic filtering system – kind of like a checklist – to see if the commercial being viewed passed basic tests about being culturally diverse. The checklist is as follows:
1. Are there people of colour present in a multicultural setting? (i.e. If its a commercial about a documentary on feudal japan, obviously you’re not going to see an african american in the background. It has to make sense.)
2. Are any of the people of colour misrepresented or stereotyped?
3. Are they shown as being upper-class, and with euro-centric beliefs and values? (A.k.a. are they assimilated into the dominant culture?)
After watching 60 commonly-aired commercials on her home television, she totalled the following stats: “13/60 had POC (people of colour), only 3/13 had POC who weren’t stereotyped, and 0% of the commercials were NOT euro-centric.”
Shocking statistics, once we are made aware of them. In my opinion, being aware of racism is perhaps the best way to handle racism.
You can contact Frances via her twitter account if you are interested in learning more.
What are your thoughts on handling racism both in and out of classrooms?