The perception still pervades that Western media heightens the threat of non-whites in society, but are we all in fact being misrepresented by the media, ultimately being manipulated to fear one another regardless of race?
In ‘A Culture of Paranoia’, Shehrazade Zafar-Arif asks whether we’re all turning into George Zimmerman, becoming fearful of our fellow citizens as a response to the government’s fear of us, which it articulates through CCTV and programs such as PRISM.
As for the misrepresentation of Arabs and black males, I would disagree with the way it has been presented in the article. Even though black and Arab males are admittedly discriminated against, the general apprehension that accompanies their presence cannot be distilled solely down to media coverage. The media are pretty much as unfair to them as they are to everyone else. They mindlessly scoop up stories from nothing, making mountains out of molehills. You can be black, white, yellow, red, green, fluorescent, it doesn’t matter; once the opportunistic media get a hold of you, they misrepresent you in every way possible in order to get their story, spike their ratings, and make more money. We hear everything that can grab our attention. We see plenty of white, latino and asian people fit the ‘nasty’ bill too, all in the name of creating headlines.
So, no, I don’t buy the ‘we are creating the black/arab bogeyman out of nothing’ scenario. It may have been partially true up until the nineties, maybe even the noughties, during which time the news were more biased and our options limited, but now, in the age of social media, the plethora of news and media outlets available to us makes those stereotypes much scarcer. We are simply not bound to the corporate media monopoly anymore, which means we are not subject to their scripted biases. Not to mention that this reverse discrimination is offensive. Blaming white people for all the ills and misfortunes that plague other people is not only condescending but also counterproductive. I have yet to meet a black person that respects him- or herself, who has not had enough with the ‘white-guilt/black-anger’ phenomenon, behind which the worst among whites and blacks hide. Clinging to a dysfunctional status quo is not something self-respecting people do. At some point one has to move on. The last thing one needs are neurotic apologists.
Let me throw a spanner in the works and provoke the issue further. Fact of the matter is that where there is smoke, there is in fact fire. The people who put bombs in public spaces in the West this day and age are predominantly from the countries currently profiled. Black people do have higher crime rates associated with them (in the USA). And wackos of all sorts tend to buy guns with which they commit massacres.
Is it fair to stereotype all blacks as criminals, all Arab-looking people as terrorist wife-beaters, and all gun owners as maniacs? No.
But we do so for various reasons, some of which are valid, some of which are not.
The trick is to address the valid issues, not the exaggerations. We oughtn’t stereotype, but we must analyze and discuss. We cannot ‘not categorize’ some person or group on account of being afraid we may be called racists. There are divisions, distinctions and differences across the racial spectrum, which are factual. We ought to address them with factual, rational argumentation. We would be stupid not to.
See, black people have been pigeonholed as criminals for a reason, much of which has to do with the fact that they commit more (US) crimes than other demographic groups (we can explore in further articles how they were driven to poverty and crime in the first place, much of which was forced upon them via violent persecution, much of which was self-induced via victim mentality), just as Arabs, Iranians and Turkic people have been pigeonholed as terrorist wife beaters (we can explore how they acquired the bad rap), and gun owners have been pigeonholed as nut-jobs (ditto), and white people have been pigeonholed as manipulators who exploit other people.
‘White people = manipulators who exploit other people.’ What an interesting stereotype! Is there fire behind this smoke? Or is it just another racist, unfair generalization?
I can hear you thinking deep down that ‘it’s fucking true!’ … then blinking as you realize that this is an unfair generalization… yet still sort of true!
Interesting little bind!
Bet you didn’t see that coming.
As an afterthought, here is one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films, Crash.