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.