It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white? (Week 9)

“Race itself has become a digital medium, a distinctive set of informatic codes, networked mediated narratives, maps, images, visualizations that index identity. It has become apparent that online race is complex and mutable” (Sanjay, 2014).

Race and ethnicity is inescapable, what we are and who we are has been culturally formed through history. Traditional norms and stereotypes have allowed us to create characters, narratives and representations of oppressed groups in society, allowing us to label these groups with negative connotations, which most of the time are broad and falsified. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of racial discrimination in the media, is the 9/11 attacks and the opportune moment for further stereotyping of Arab and Muslim individuals, in which hate crimes multiplied in America by 1600% between 2001 and 2002 (Asultanty, 2013).

November 2011 Time Magazine “The Woman of Islam”

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The above newspaper cover is an example of American media attempting to change oppression through the use of simplified complex representations, “balancing a negative representation with a positive one” (Asultanty, 2013). However, the image appears in a narrative that subtly justifies discrimination against Arabs and Muslims, such as terrorists, villains and untrustworthy types by labelling them as ‘secretive’ and having ‘something to hide’, justified by the title ‘Lifting The Veil’. This identifying that America will never be able to let go of their hatred towards the Muslim society, based upon the few people that ruined their relationship and caused so much pain.

Debates about how to define the community being represented became a prevalent issue in the 2009 Hey Hey it’s Saturday skit. The performance made me question the worthiness of African-American past to white-Australia past, in which both races had been made fun of. This notion of racial discrimination I identified as based on one’s previous experiences and knowledge, in which African-Americans had dealt with significant hardship based on their race and ethnicity in previous times. However, it must not go unnoticed that racism in the media can also effect people from all different cultures and one must not be given significant attention over the other. For example, the white people received more backlash painting their faces black, than the black male did representing a white individual.

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In our tutorial we looked at the Nazi costume worn by Prince Harry, as represented in the media.We concluded that individuals make racist comments everyday, however people of power are significantly represented in the media for their interpretations of racism, and this has a negative effect on the global audience. But why did he receive so much racial backlash? Unfortunately, Prince Harry represented the idea of insignificance towards World War II and the death of many Jews, rather creating a humorous recount on a horrible period of life for many social communities. Although creating negative imagery, it must be noted that this may only be a way of “imaging fuller ways of characters and stories”, depending on the individual and their prior knowledge and experiences (Sukhmani, 2014), in which Prince Harry thought he was doing no harm.

References:

Asultanty, E 2013, ‘Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a Postrace Era’, Project Muse, vol.65, no.1, pp.161-169

BBC News, JPEG, Harry says sorry for Nazi Costume, accessed 05/05/2014, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4170083.stm

Clarke, M 2009, ‘White Australia has a blackface history’, Overland Literary Journal, pp.1-4, 8 October

Jen 2009, Hey Hey it’s Saturday: Jackson Jive, accessed 05/05/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0qi5sJRywY

Sanjay, S 2014, ‘Black Twitter? Racial hash tags, networks and contagion’, New Formations, vol.1, no.78, pg.1, accessed 05/05/2014, http://www.darkmatter101.org/wiki/_media/digital-race/sharma_black_twitter_final.pdf

Ted 2013, Untapped Stereotypes: Evelyn Asultanty, accessed 05/05/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4J1Gaz3ByU

Time Magazine, JPEG, Women of Afghanistan, accessed 05/05/2013, http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20011203,00.html

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