As a part of our commitment to support the fight against racial inequality and injustice, we are sharing the views of students and experts on racism in its political, social and economic contexts.
Warwick University alum Christabel Nsiah-Buadi is a broadcaster, writer and the creator of "The Cipher," a newsletter that amplifies the Black British experience. She is also the founder of the podcast production company My Lens Media. Its slate includes "Sista Brunch" and “Changemakers” for "Marketplace" by American Public Media.
She talked to us about the representation of people of colour in the media, and the need to be conscious of the often inadequate portrayal of their lives in pop culture and news media.
Here’s what we learnt from her:
1. Remember that media portrayal of PoC is often incomplete
Although there are some cases of PoC being portrayed in positive or empowering roles, they often appear in news media and pop culture as coming from impoverished backgrounds, lacking agency, or in positions of relative weakness to their white counterparts. It is important to acknowledge that this portrayal glazes over rich and ancient cultural histories and does not highlight PoC as successful members of society who provide positive and invaluable contributions to our social, political and economic structures. It’s important to keep in mind that this representation is an inadequate portrayal of what it means to be a person of colour and can contribute and perpetuate existing stereotypes.
2. Actively question how portrayals of PoC in mainstream media affect your own perceptions of the community
This diluted portrayal of PoC in news and popular media forms can often be the only source of information and discourse those from other communities have access to when it comes to learning about the lives of PoC. Not only can it influence perceptions, it can lead to unconsciously and consciously perpetuated stereotypes about the community. Questions like “What part did colonialism play in impoverishing the global south” may fail to be considered. It is important to actively question the media we consume. Ask yourselves whether the depiction of a certain community is accurate, complete, and uninfluenced by subconscious biases! If it isn’t, maybe you need to diversify the news you read and watch!
3. Seek out and consume media that discusses race and racism with nuance
Luckily, media outlets are taking steps to redress this problem. Many are looking into fixing problems of representation in both their staff composition and in the news they present. With the rise of the internet, journalism has also become more decentralised than ever - allowing more previously marginalized voices to make a platform for themselves. Make a conscious effort to look for and support media houses and outlets that treat race and racism with nuance!