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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A call to address the racism of the 21st century

It’s the 21st century and yet, there is still a need to address the issue of racism in the United States, and indeed across the globe. The complex issue of racism has never been effectively faced there are several instances of racism resurfacing even in pop culture such as the infamous atrocity of Trayvon Martin aside and the incident involving a Belgian newspaper depicting the US president and First Lady as apes. 

There was no restitution for the psycho-sociological damage inflicted on generations of African-Americans through the institution of slavery. As an obvious consequence of past and present racism (including slavery), the economic status of African Americans is still woefully deplorable. Since African-Americans were prohibited from receiving adequate education until relatively recently, this is only to be expected. Of course, any who are economically and educationally behind will inevitably finds themselves on the bottom rung of society.

There has barely been progress in the movement to deinstitutionalize racism. Our society is inherently, and subconsciously racist. Racism was ingrained in almost every institution– schools, churches, etc. Simply getting rid of the sign which says “No blacks, no dogs!” isn’t going to do the trick.

Most minorities still feel consciously uncomfortable whenever they enter a place as the only ones of their race. They are still subjects of suspicion whenever they carry a bag, walk alone at night or in groups in some of the more affluent neighborhoods.

Anybody who knows about the social experiment conducted in a park on the perception of different races can attest to the undeniable fact that inherent prejudice against minorities is very real. For those who are not familiar with this experiment I urge you to go watch this short youtube video: “What Would You Do? Bike Theft (White Guy, Black Guy, Pretty Girl).”

Three people try to steal a bike out in the open. First, a white teenager; then a black one. Finally, a young blond girl tries her luck.

The white teenager was not even noticed by the bystanders when he was trying to steal the bike, despite his suspicious behavior. And the blonde girl was even offered help by a bystander, despite the fact that she acknowledges that she was stealing. When the black teenager attempts to steal the bike, the reactions of the bystanders were completely and shockingly different.

Countering racism, as it’s so often misconstrued, does not mean opposing white people. In the past, and most certainly today, we have countless white allies in the fight against racism and discrimination.

However, we cannot simply overlook the progress that has been made in the last two decades. There is a black president, and here in Massachusetts, we do indeed have a black governor (first time in history for both). Even here at UMass Boston, Chancellor Keith Motley is the first black person to hold a chancellorship role at any of the schools in the UMass group.

However, much work still needs to be done. Police brutality, discriminatory media depictions, and unreasonably higher incarceration rates all point to the fact that a dialogue about racism is needed.