Desire to See Diversity Within America’s Media Representation

By: Kourtney Web

Americans have developed a love affair with the media that consumes a great deal of their daily lives, in the form of television, movies and billboards. But at the same time some Americans are underrepresented in the media. America is known as a melting pot but our media doesn’t reflect how diverse it really is.

Women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds are being underrepresented in Hollywood, according to a new study on diversity released a few days before the 2016 Oscars.

“There’s this saying ‘if you can’t see it you can’t be it,’” said Michael Boyd, a history teacher from Jamaica, Queens. “If our young people are only seeing the same characters over and over and none of them look like them, it’s going to be hard for them to say I want to be that. Representation matters greatly.”

Although many have been critiquing the media for not being as diverse as it should, some think that media has taken steps to insure there is equal representation for all.

“I see a lot of minorities in media in sports, music, fashion, minority radio personalities as well as morning evening and daytime news,” said Jordan Jeffers a York College Business major. “Look at all the shows that have minorities in them. I think the opportunities are there for those who want them it is just a matter of pursuing them.

“It is important that the media reflect all Americans, and I think that media has become more diverse, but I think it has a long way to go, it could always be better.”

Today there is diversity in some aspects of the media. On the major networks and cable shows such as Blackish, The Goldberg’s, Dr. Ken, and Jane the Virgin show people from different racial and cultural groups. (African-American. Jewish, Asian, and Hispanic)

“Black people need black media and black media needs its community,” said Lessen Dorette from Black Voices in the Media.

Media is still a straight white man’s game leaving other minorities to play catch up. The Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity study showed that only a third of speaking characters across the studied films and television shows were female, and only 28.3 percent were from ethnic minority backgrounds, around 10 percent less than the relevant figure among the general U.S. population. Older characters were even more likely to be male, with only 25.7 percent of those over 40 being female. Just 2 percent of speaking characters identified as LGBT.

Americans are wanting to see more of themselves represented in all forms of the media. A diverse media would be one that is inclusive of all cultural groups in America as well as people with disabilities.

Race and Ethnicity are not only physical attributes but television and film is not the melting pot depicted in reality. Representation is especially important to those who feel isolated when they never see people they can relate to in the media or for those who are stereotyped when they see characters that look like them.

“Wanting people of color to be in lead roles isn’t discrediting white actors and actresses, it’s just a nice change of pace seeing people that actually look like you in a show or in a movie,” said Sophia Davis.

Representation is not just a black and white issue. Many races go largely unrepresented or underrepresented when it comes to television and movies according to The Critical Media Project.

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