The Media: An Inhibitor to Post-Racial America

Football star Richard Sherman.

Football star Richard Sherman.

Compton. Now, what were the first things entered your mind? Gangs such as the bloods or crips? Or perhaps, for the hip-hop enthusiasts out there, N.W.A.’s hit single “Straight Outta Compton”? Fun fact: For those of you who don’t know, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was born and raised in Compton. Ok, before I continue any further, I’d like to bring up this video:

Knowing that Richard Sherman is a notorious trash-talker who grew up in Compton, one wouldn’t  even think that he could have a degree from such an elite school like Stanford University, especially after watching the “Straight Outta Compton” music video. I say this because, most likely after watching the music video, you, the observer, experienced the media’s priming effect. How do I know? Because that was my intention. This is a prime example of how easy it is, through social media interaction (i.e. reading this blog post), to attach a negative connotation to a certain race or individual. So, what is the priming effect? Well, lets test it. Think of this hypothetical situation I found on a Stanford website : there is an adolescent (whose race was not identified) who had allegedly either shoplifted or assaulted a peer. What would be your first guess as to the race and gender of this adolescent? After watching and listening to the music video,  I’d assume an African-American male. This study was actually done on police officers, which concluded that “by simply unconsciously thinking about black people, officers suddenly began seeing a neutral situation in racially stereotypical term.”

The reason I used Richard Sherman is because, after seeing his recent post-game outburst after beating the 49ers to get to the Super Bowl, my impression of Sherman changed and I became aware of that. After seeing his outburst and being aware of his roots, many of us would think poorly of Sherman. Honestly, I thought he was portraying himself as this “hardcore thug,” when in fact there are numerous stories from High School coaches of how Sherman, more than any teacher, would pressure his team-mates into keeping up with their studies, reminding them of how unlikely a career in the NFL would be. Reading this made me aware of the media’s influential power. It made me aware of how they could take one incident and ruin someone’s image. It made me aware of how easily they could attach a negative connotation to a race, a culture, an individual, etc. Post-racial America does not exist. Racism and racial stereotypes are still very much prevalent in society today.

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3 comments

  1. It is true that media can have negative effect on people but it also can has positive aspects. I think it is what sources you are looking for that matters. With internet, we can explore more about other races and cultures than ever before, which I think will gradually give us more fair and correct opinion about people from other countries as well as their background.
    As the video you posted about black people, it is just the matter of choice. I know many books talk about the goodness of them like “The good Black” by Paul Barrett and “Black beauty” by Ben Arogundade. I find an article telling the good things about black people. http://field-negro.blogspot.com/2008/05/10-myths-about-black-people.html#.Uvm0SXCkp4A

  2. Ice Cube and Dr. Dre from N.W.A. are “straight outta compton” and look at where they are. Ice Cube makes family movies with huge movie stars and Dr. Dre heads the Beats by Dre empire as well brought up and produced for many famous MC’s. Dr. Dre went from Compton to mading 100 million dollars in one day by selling stocks of Beats. The media definitely does have power over people, watching this video you’d never expect they would be where they are in their careers today.

  3. If you didn’t think to make this blog about Sherman first, I definitely would have. This was a great example of stereotypes and the quick judgement most people make in regard to race and stereotypes. Sherman is a great athlete and a graduate of Stanford, something most people would never expect. Your article did a great job of pointing out the media’s influence over people’s opinions and how prevalent racism still is to this day

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