Thursday, August 15, 2013

Images Presented by the Media

A writer writes.  When I was growing up in the early 1960s, I rarely saw African American males presented on television or in movies in non servant roles.  There was the typical role in the movies of a Black man as a butler, a limousine driver, and a rest room attendant.  On television a commercial featuring a Black man was  non existent. Companies did not want their products associated with Black people let alone a Black male. Musicians, singers, and sports figures were the accepted roles the media would display of Black males.  We could sing, dance, had musical skills and play sports (that we were finally allowed to play in leagues previously where only Whites were allowed).

Incremental improvements began to happen in the mid 60s when Bill Cosby joined Robert Culp on the TV series "I Spy".  But, Cosby was still in the role of an assistant to the tennis star Culp.  Other than Cosby, there were no other Black male actors in a regular TV series.  So, as a child I was exposed to a media where White males doing positive things was all I saw.  It was as if Black males were non existent. Later in the decade, the era of comedic viewpoints of Black males appeared in such shows as "Good Times".

The positive accomplishments of Black males and what young Black males could aspire to accomplish was not displayed by the media.  Spring forward some 50 years and what has changed?  For the most part the Black community attempts to display positive stories of our accomplishments.  But, the media remains focuses on negative stories.  Stories featuring murder, gang activities, or negative stories about prominent  Black males who have gone astray are the norm.

In the spring of this year, approximately 45 African American high school Black males graduated from a Beautillion program sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis.  The program involved a number of activities to help those young men move in a positive way towards man hood.  There was no coverage of the program by the local media in Indianapolis.  It was not news that positive accomplishments of Black males was occurring.  Several weeks later when criminal activities by Black males occurred in downtown Indianapolis, those stories were featured repeatedly on the local news.

The media understands the impact of the images it presents.  Try to show those who are watching the positive lifestyle they can aspire to.  Why repeat the showing of negative images that offers no hope?

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