June 21, 2020

Day 7: Race and How it’s Covered in Media

DAY 7 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

We hope this challenge provides you with an opportunity to better understand concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us for the 14-day equity challenge, welcome. If you are returning after previous engagement with the challenge, nice work! We are glad you are here. From Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 28th, YWCA Spokane will send, those who sign up for our challenge, daily emails prompting you to take time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage you to take note of any insights in a daily log or diary. Consider setting aside time to talk with friends about what you have learned and how the topics introduced impact our community. Invite your network to join you on this challenge and share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge. Thank you for participating!

DAY 7: Race & How It’s Covered in Media

For many of us, popular culture is the primary way we learn about other people, especially if we don’t live in a culturally diverse area. Media, news, and movies play a significant role in how we learn to see the world around us. 

Unfortunately, many representations of people in media are based on cultural stereotypes, which tend to marginalize and caricature members of nondominant groups. Through these representations, we often see a limited, and distorted, view of others.

As Chimamanda Adichie shared in a TED talk about stereotypes (link below), “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

In television and film, characters from nondominant groups often fall into tropes or clichés. The consistency of these representations reinforces stereotypes. Historically the gatekeepers of film, news coverage, and media representation have set the agenda, without most of us realizing it’s happening. Who is telling the story (and who is not at the table) shapes how the story is told. 

While we may think of this as an issue only seen in older media, this is still a significant problem today. For example, black men and boys, or nonwhite people in general, are still often overrepresented as criminals or portrayed negatively in both news and entertainment programs, while white people are more often shown as the heroes or victims of crime. Positive depictions of nonwhites are often limited to sports and music. Though these representations are factually inaccurate, they are often left unquestioned because they fall in line with prevailing cultural stereotypes. 

We can’t erase the influence that the media has on our society. The most important thing we can do is recognize it and start noticing how it shapes our perceptions of people we’ve rarely or never met, places we’ve never been, and concepts we don’t know much about. We are all influenced, even if we think of ourselves as open-minded. Next time you get a strong feeling about a person or idea, or make an assumption about a group of people, pause and take a moment to examine this belief. Start bringing into your awareness your own biases and begin breaking them down one at a time. 

If you have…

5 Minutes


10 Minutes


15 Minutes

and and
Watch this video 
explaining Stuart Hall’s Media Studies theory of representation in the media.
and Read this article 
examining how media can skew racial perceptions of crime — particularly, white Americans’ associations of crime with racial minorities.
and Watch this TED Talk
that explores the danger of a single story, shared by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Daily Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or start an online group with friends to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? Any insights you would like to share with us? We welcome you to leave your comments here. Thank you!

By: Rachel Dannen

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