By Danielle Bloom
The first time a minority was cast to star in an American film was in 1927, when an African American actor named Lincoln Perry scored a role as Stepin Fetchit, a southern simpleton, in the silent movie “In Old Kentucky.” At the time, minority actors were still struggling to find a foothold in the film industry. 88 years later, though the technology behind media has advanced, minority roles in it seem to still be stagnant.
The matter of the fact is that Hollywood struggles to include racial diversity. In the top grossing films of 2014, only eight percent of the protagonists were of color, and of this eight percent, all were men. None of the protagonists were women of color, and only fourteen percent of all protagonists were women. This issue raises major concerns. The media has a problem with both gender and racial inclusion.
However, this problem does not just stay within the film making industry, but is present in media of all forms. Ever since the creation of the iPhone 3, Apple has included an alternative keyboard filled with emojis. This keyboard featured several white emojis and a single stereotypical Middle Eastern one. After many complained about the lack of diversity, Apple launched their iOS 8.3 update, which included multi-racial emojis. However, this should not have been a problem in the first place.
The media speaks about what is important in a society and how representing minorities in the media needs to be a priority. When the entertainment industry incorporates people of diverse backgrounds and cultures, a wide range of viewers are able to relate to the characters, thus preventing the media from whitewashing their films.
Minorities are misrepresented through stereotypes being prevalent in the print media. Numerous publications take racial and gender stereotypes to the next level by making them universal and using them as the sole method of representation for minorities. Popular television shows, such as “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons,” perpetuate stereotypes from pop culture to politics.
These problems are not just in America; it is widespread. In news and entertainment, minorities are not accurately portrayed through the reinforced themes conveyed in the news. These inaccurate representations were often the result of economic factors that determined the forms of media that were broadcast to implicate the portrayals they include. Media content is more accurately reflected upon the reality of multiculturalism when diversity upon race is included.
These forms of media, as previously stated, are popular in today’s youth, yet they all misrepresent minorities. It is time that we add racial diversity in our media.