Racism is the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed to individuals of a different race based on the perception of the other person’s race is more superior. The concept of racism has been around for a long time and it takes a different dimension today as the media and social norms are also considered as one of the agents perpetrating racism.
The impacts of mass media are profound particularly with the advance in technology. Accordingly, the media has been found to impact people’s beliefs, assumptions, public ideology, and experiences. Most of the documented racism has been against African-Americans, although other races have also been discriminated against. As such, it is essential to investigate the impact of mass media, social media, and social norms on racism.
The media plays a critical role in society including educating people with and without credible knowledge. According to Day (2009), racism is prejudice with power against the people of color who in this case comprise African-Americans, Hispanic. Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Day (2009) went further to note that racism is not always a conscious effort or activity. The media holds a vital influence in our daily lives and it infiltrates our perceptions and understanding with continuous messages that impact our belief and value systems. Therefore, “racial inequality is so deeply ingrained in American society that they are nearly invisible and White Americans are unaware of the advantages that they enjoy in the society and how their attitudes and actions unintentionally discriminate against persons of color” (Kulaszewicz 2015, p.6)
The media propagates racism through its communicated messages to the public as is evident in the Windrush scandal in the UK. The representations of the people of color by the media and promotional industries have repeatedly constructed their marginalization in relation to “a white, classed, and gendered British norm” (Edwards 2018). In the Windrush scandal, the UK government had been accused of institutional racism which can also be said of the media. Institutional racism is the collective failure of an agency to offer a suitable and specialized service to people because of their color, culture, or ethnic origin. The professional world of journalism, public relations practitioners, advertisers, and other communications industries propagate racism since they have remained ‘white’. Racial discrimination within these professions is manifested as lived experiences of being ‘othered’ repeatedly as well as in varying situations to an extent that a person can never be sure of complete acceptance. Micro-aggressions such as being ignored on arrival for a meeting since one is not considered as a senior practitioner are common (Edwards 2018). However, institutional racism in the media does not necessarily imply that communications professions proactively exclude people of color or white practitioners are guilty of being racist. As such, race can be perceived as a process of structured events that over time highlight a system in which various groups of people or individuals are racialized.
Social norms are also critical aspects of racism. In the U.S., racial minority children are in dilemma since on one hand race is fundamental to their identities while on the other it is a source of psychological well-being and a lens through which others perceive them. Ethnic and racial membership is essential identities (Pauker, Apfelbaum, & Spitzer 2015). Social norms increasingly affect intergroup behavior and explicit attitude of children. The processes are known to help children strongly help children formulate strong group identities as well as understand various intergroup and intragroup behaviors. The processes operate in accord with reference to while children. For instance, colorblind norms are known to be inconsistent with a healthy racial identity development which is dependent on active racial discussions.
Day, Phyllis. (2009). A New History of Social Welfare (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Edwards, L 2018, ‘Are the Media and Communications Industries Institutionally Racist?’, available from: https://www.printfriendly.com/p/g/peFfj3. [Accessed Dec. 27, 2018].
Kulaszewicz, K 2015, ‘Racism and the Media: A Textual Analysis’, St. Catherine University, available from: https://sophia.stkate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1478&context=msw_papers. [Accessed Dec. 27, 2018].
Pauker, K, Apfelbaum, E, & Spitzer, B 2015, ‘When Societal Norms and Social Identity Collide: the Race Talk Dilemma for Racial Minority Children’, Social Psychology Personal Sci. vol. 1, no. 8, pp. 887-89