The struggle for African-American representation in the media


Representation is the creation of equality and understanding. However, African American voices and stories have been silenced throughout history.

Society is desperately trying to catch up on African American trauma to understand it, but Chloe Moore, head of human development and family studies, president of Black Media Entertainment at Michigan State University, is done waiting for society to catch up. .

“If you don’t have multicultural perspectives in everything you do, it shouldn’t be done,” said Chloe Moore.

The creation of the new wave of black American representation was done to create solidarity between producers of different races and to understand the struggles of an entire community. However, how these films and documentaries dictate the narrative can be dramatized.

While these content creators may believe this is their way of seeing and hearing these stories, Chloe Moore said the African American community is tired of reliving and even acting on the trauma they have experienced. .

“We don’t want to play it on screen,” Chloe Moore said.

Black Media Entertainment treasurer Lily Cross said that instead of portraying traumatic experiences on TV, the uniqueness of having different characteristics across the community should be embraced.

“A lot of these traumatic things that we’re going through don’t need to be aired in the media,” Cross said. “It can be changed to show how we can get out of it, what we do with it, and how we just learn to love our struggles and ultimately become better versions of ourselves.”

When you navigate the world of African American media, there are always some notable stars. Chloe Moore highlighted the importance of Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Regina King as actors leaning into roles that allow the community to be heard authentically in mainstream media.

Another notable black media source is the HBO comedy series “Insecure” featuring comedian and actress Issa Rae. The story follows two best friends going through the motions of their daily lives and dealing with their insecurities in awkward ways. “Especially as millennials, we resonate with ‘Insecure’ because it’s funny and drama-free, where you don’t have to think about Black Lives Matter or the shootings and we can relate,” Chloe Moore said.

Even children’s media has evolved over the years, Cross said.

Cross said new Disney and Pixar movies like “Encanto” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” have included new cultures that children’s companies haven’t explored before. She said these films symbolized a childhood that many older generations missed when they weren’t depicted in their favorite cartoons.

However, mainstream media is not limited to streaming platforms. It also includes news and journalistic representation of the African-American community. The problem with mainstream news is generalizations, said Daniela Bondekwe, a sophomore in neuroscience and editor of Her Campus.

“Journalism has had times when it has portrayed African Americans in a negative light and has often drawn on the negative experience of African Americans…to reiterate certain stereotypes,” Bondekwe said.

Bondekwe said she was very concerned about the effect this has on those who have never really interacted with the African American community, the feeling of confirmation bias and connection with a whole group of people they make no effort to know beyond stereotypes.

She said giving African Americans a platform to speak out is the start of the solution. However, while it points the media in the right direction, it also gives the African-American community a responsibility that many have not asked for in society.

“As a black woman, I have a lot of power to influence and show other black girls growing up that they can do whatever they want and grow and express themselves,” Bondekwe said. “Then there’s another part of me that I want the freedom to just express myself without feeling like I have to carry the voices and be strong for an entire community.

Journalists like journalism freshman Maya Moore want to cover dynamic stories while caring about her community and keeping attention on important topics like the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Once we take the focus away from specific topics, a lot of that momentum in a movement also wanes, especially when you’re unaffected by that movement,” Maya Moore said.

Maya Moore said social media could be an effective new tool for portraying black stories authentically. She said that with the ability to capture videos and photos of slices of African American life, truth and accuracy can also be captured with just a cell phone.

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Reflecting on the MLK “I Have A Dream” speech that defined the beginning of black representation, freedom of the press and speech has changed and evolved with these platforms to reach an even wider audience in a time span. shorter, said Maya Moore.

“You don’t even have to give a speech to reach an audience,” Maya Moore said. “You can write a message and you can reach millions.”

While the ability to post harmful things about these inspirational movements is also recognized, the bottom line is that the platform creates representation where mainstream media has never seen before.

“Find people who aren’t the golden black person or the golden title,” Cross said. “Just finding people in the community and in the world and knowing that they have their own story, no matter what they do or how they are recognized in society. I think that’s a beautiful part. of black storytelling is that everyone has their unique touch.”

Chloe Moore said progress has been made in representation solely based on the Black Media Entertainment organization which exists in large numbers on campus, with creatives able to produce content for themselves and others. while he would be unknown in the not so distant past. .

Chloe Moore explained what it really means to strive for a full representation of the true African-American community: education and awareness.

“Educate, educate, educate,” said Chloe Moore. “Don’t expect black people to educate you because we’re black people. We’re not responsible for teaching you things when there are resources out there. … ‘I don’t know’ isn’t really a reasonable excuse because there are so many ways to educate yourself. Even educating yourself in the proper knowledge is to be a good advocate.

This story was featured in our January 11 special print edition. Read the full issue here.


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