The issue of violence against black (African-American) people has been a topic of discussion for some decades now. Various people hold negative views and attitudes towards race and ethnicity, an issue that has ignited worldwide attention and discussion of systemic racism and police brutality. Throughout the United States history, white people have for a long time enjoyed socially and legally sanctioned rights and privileges that have been denied to people of color. As a result, the black lives movement was formed in response to the rampant and unjust killing of people of color by the police. The movement is dedicated to fighting against black violence and racism especially regarding police brutality. This essay is an analysis of the discourse of the black identity. It discusses how society portrays black people in the news and popular media, the effect the portrayal has on them, and the changes that can be made to change how society portrays them.
Why I selected the African-American Identity
I selected the African-American identity because it is a subject that I have a personal interest in and would like to contribute to positive change. Throughout my life, I have encountered people close to me that have suffered and even lost lives because of racism and police brutality. I wish to do the little that I can to help the situation; I hope this research will contribute positively. Although mountable progress has been made to address the rot and unjust killing of black people by the police, we still have a long way to go. I stand firm in my belief that society must place equal values on humanity; it must value black lives as much as it values humanity of white people.
How Society portrays Black People
Society is biased in how it portrays black people. Generally, Americans associate being white with advantages because they are given preferential treatment. When it comes to the justice system, black people are treated less fairly than their white counterparts in their encounters with the police. Additionally, even in other contexts including loans, mortgages, and social encounters, black people continue to be treated unfairly. There have been cases where white people, the police included, have gotten away with killing unarmed black men. In 2020, George Floyd, succumbed after police officers arresting him knelt on his neck despite pleading that he could not breathe (Rickford, 109). The matter sparked massive demonstrations across the world. The matter swayed public opinion and drew attention to the vice of racism in the American society.
The media has played a significant role in bringing attention to the world about the implications of the vice. People are becoming more empowered and are doing away with the culture of silence, for instance, people are now using their phones as weapons to document injustices that happen around them. In the news media, the conversation about racism is alive now more than ever. In pop culture, there is a national reckoning of black lives matters. From Hollywood sets, football fields, basketball arenas, and grocery store shelves, the entire country is alive to the inequalities that people of color have faced for decades. Further, films are being used to change the narrative of black people in American society. In the series, blackish, the plot follows the light skin privileges in society and the tension it has caused for black people. In the Johnson family, Diane brings school photos home where she could barely be seen because the photographer did not use proper lighting. The picture debate brought a heated discourse about colorism with Bow insisting that the photo be retaken terming it hurtful and thoughtless.
How Social Construction and Power Relations Reinforce Racism
Society portrays black people negatively which affects their lives. Selective reporting by the media underpins how black people are viewed by the public. Many people assume that black people are criminals, and poor. People have become accustomed to the notion that back people rely on welfare and crime as a source of income. This is why people assume that black people are always armed even when they are not armed. Society is constructed in such a way that minority groups including black people are treated as criminals and this is a result of negative stereotyping. Power relations also come into play. Statistics reveal that 62% of the American population is white while black people only make up 13% (Ogbar, 23). As such, white people have the upper hand and advantage because they have numbers. The inequality is further exacerbated by power division in regard to leadership which reinforces the already existing inequalities.
How Society Can Help Address Racial Inequality
To address the problem of racism and police brutality, society needs a change of tactics. First, we must eliminate the negative stereotyping that paints black people as poor and criminals. This can be done through employing positive leadership at the local, federal, and state levels. Data shows that the number of police offers that intentionally killed black people dropped significantly during President Obama’s reign (Scott and Zachary, 277). This shows that leadership has a direct impact on to rule of law and enforcement. Further, suctions need to be put in place to economically empower black power including job creation to empower black people economically and push them to a crime-free life. Further, there need to be extensive discussions in the media that paint black people in good light and not as criminals. When the media undertakes transparent and unbiased reporting, the public will start viewing black people positively and this will help eliminate racism.
From this study, it is evident that despite the great progress that has been made towards attaining racial equity, we still have a long way to go as a society. The key takeaway is that media plays a considerable role in influencing the perception of the public and it would help if they undertook positive reporting that is free of bias. With the surfacing of the Black Lives Matter Movement, there is renewed voice and hope in confronting racial inequality. These lessons will help me as an individual to continue advancing and advocating for the racial equality agenda in the space I exist in. It will help me contribute positively to society.
Ogbar, Jeffrey OG. “Black power: Radical politics and African American identity.” (2019).
Rickford, Russell. “Black lives matter: Toward a modern practice of mass struggle.” New Labor Forum. Vol. 25. No. 1. Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, 2016.
Scott, Deena A. Isom, and Zachary T. Seal. “Disentangling the roles of negative emotions and racial identity in the theory of African American offending.” American Journal of Criminal Justice 44.2 (2019): 277-308.