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Black Negativity

Copyright: Vox

Copyright: Vox

Aiden Harmitt-Williams watches the events in Ferguson and asks when will the media stop portraying the black community in such a negative light.

Since the inception of slavery, ‘blackness’…has been both a blessing and a curse

The recent events in Ferguson after the killing of the unarmed Michael Brown have sparked outrage worldwide. Despite this, the media continues to paint the black community in a negative light. This was highlighted in stories about protesters looting McDonalds. At no point was it mentioned that this was because they were retrieving milk to treat affected victims of tear gas.

Since the inception of slavery, ‘blackness’ (being born to at least one black parent or ‘acting black’) has been both a blessing and a curse. The media is saturated with entertainers/celebrities who are said to be role models for generations to come. I’m referring to the likes of Oprah, Mo Farah and Barack Obama — all of whom receive positive headlines. Others like Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and even Michael Jackson post-mortem are riddled with controversy across media outlets to the point where no news stories about them are positive.

It is inescapable how much of the black culture has affected the world wide population, with the adoption of once-culture-specific things such as Rastafarianism, hip-hop as well as spokespeople who brought along further equality such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. But it still happens that we are separated from the rest of the world through even small things such as the following image:

Segregation (of the black communities) may even be deemed harmless. An example of this is “black twitter”, a self-imposed separate section exclusive to black people. There are other sections cornered off by ethnicity, race and religion, where, for users, being able to relate to each other on a level is the main pull of the timeline. Also, it’s good being a part of something bigger than themselves. Here you’ll find positive news throughout. On a daily basis, I see stories celebrating black excellence in education and as well as general support in the face of racism.

On a daily basis, I see stories celebrating black excellence in education and as well as general support in the face of racism.

However this is also where negative stereotypes are reinforced through news of provoked or passive black violence on Vine, black women being degraded for their retweets, and opinions are taken as religion because of their follower count.

Low blows such as racial profiling via product placement in supermarket chains [shown below] are are largely missed in media representation. Racism is alive and well. It can be blatant  or it will be subtle. Just look – black children being placed on the body of monkey; packaging perpetuating the stereotype black single parent families. Have the people who made these decisions no knowledge of history? Of what’s right?

Copyright: New York Times

Copyright: New York Times

Copyright: MyColumbusPower

Copyright: MyColumbusPower

There’s an argument that black people are a self-destructive race, with a culture that has a negative impact on itself, which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. To some extent, this is true. However, over these past weeks I have noticed (with the help of social media) that these so called prophecies are the product of how we are portrayed in the media. Not what people think.

These are just a few examples of how, on a daily basis, blackness is negatively portrayed to young people who don’t know any better and are brought up with the same mentality.

Ferguson is just one example of a victim being negatively labelled by hundreds of apparently un-newsworthy reports, while the amount of positive news is scarce I expect that this will not be the last bout of underlying racism, and it’s unacceptable.

What are your thoughts? What can the media do to portray black culture in a more positive light? Do you agree with the article? Let us know: @rifemag