Media and Responsibility

Carol A. Hand

I’m grateful to everyone who shared their perspectives on my last post. I’m also grateful to the author on Race Reflections who inspired me to revisit a question – “Whose truths matters to media?”

Obviously, images and the stories that are told are filtered through the eyes and values of reporters. Some raise awareness and others defend unquestioned privilege and perpetuate the status quo. Those differences affected my life profoundly a long time ago. They changed my understanding of responsibility and forced me to change how I lived my life.

I ask you to watch the following video carefully and try to imagine how you would respond. There are three short news clips, each representing a different view. Which one is true? I suspect they all are true through the eyes of the reporters. Which ones encourage inclusion and respect for others? And which ones inflame emotions and feed a sense of white entitlement?

The images and stories media tell matter. In the context of volatile times, messages that perpetuate stereotypes and scapegoat powerless groups of people may incite and condone violence and deflect attention away from the issues that affect us all profoundly. This is what matters for all of us.

(If you’re curious about the outcome of the of the challenge discussed in the video, here’s a link to a very old post: https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/were-honoring-indians-2/.)

I’m deeply grateful that so many people feel comfortable expressing their views honestly here. We don’t need to agree. Honest dialogue is one of the few means we have to learn from each other. Chi miigwetch (Ojibwe thank you very much).

 

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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32 Responses to Media and Responsibility

  1. desilef says:

    Wow! And I loved seeing and hearing you away from the written word. The reports are disturbing. In the first one, the reporter flubs his line as though he finds the very idea of offense too silly to say. The first two make it seem like you are one disgruntled individual against the overwhelming majority of people in town and there’s no context of a larger struggle. The last piece focused more on you gives a glimpse of the pervading racism and undercurrent of violence that accompanies it, but what upset me in the last piece was the statement that this historic, traditional mascot dates back to 1964. And there was no further comment. Did I mishear that? !!!??? This caricature was adopted in the midst of the great civil rights movement? Talk about white entitlement! If they could be so insensitive during that particular era, they are more than willfully blind.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for such thoughtful comments, Diane. I love the way you deconstructed each message 🙂

      It was an intense learning experience to try to affect change in a willfully resistant community. I’m grateful for the many allies I found along the way…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. nicciattfield says:

    Media response-ability is a topic which interests me. Francis Nuommjoh has a book which focuses on Africa’s media, and he pointed out that a biased media is a human rights abuse. His later book, Insiders and Outsiders, looked at the way that immigrants are constructed in modern day South Africa, and the resultant xenophobia which is rife (not only during times of attacks).

    My interest at the moment is the way that people are often constructed to be without agency. In Shades of Prejudice, a media monitoring researcher has explored the way that migrants are often presented as a threat or as victims, but never as active agents who are able to make a contribution.

    I’m not sure about the concept of ‘white entitlement’ as much as I prefer the need to deconstruct ‘whiteness’. Whiteness, as a discourse, is helpful to engage with. Whereas ‘white entitlement’, I believe would essentialize ‘race’, opting to explain thoughts or perceptions based on skin colour. I’m quite reluctant to reconstruct divides.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Silvia TIC says:

    Carol, this and similar posts and articles have made me struggle with my own position on discrimantion. Since very young, I’ve always been all about healing and didn’t see the need for digging on issues from the past or not necessarily representative of an entire group (i.e., not all me abuse or discriminate women, not all able patronize the disable, not all whites discriminate those who may not perceived as white and so on). But I’ve seen the other side since I moved to Canada. I can say I was somewhat blind to racism. I don’t see colour or religion or heritage, I only see people who do good things and people who do bad things, people who are hurt and those who hurt others. And being hurt myself both at individual and social/political level, I’ve seen how people who hurt are either hurt or damaged themselves. With few exceptions I don’t see evil. It’s been hard to me to learn that this way to see the world is considered racist by some. Apparently, I should be able to see those differences. I’m trying to understand the grief. But the best response to my own question came to me at the Global Climate March last November 29. Most of the speakers where Native from different tribes in BC, but all of them talked about the land being our mother, about all of us being from the same family, and when we had a minute of silence, it was called for all the victims of terrorism and climate change. A Muslim young lady spoke to the crowd too. That’s how I see and feel it true. We are not blacks, whites, reds or yellows, we are all a single tribe who became stranded. And if we have a chance in this mess is through finding and using that strength.
    Thanks for showing me that sometimes the blindness may be insensitive

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Debra says:

    Whew. Nice work. Thank you for starting the process of change in your community. It is wonderful that it was eventually the students themselves who became enlightened and pushed for the change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sojourner says:

    What hit me, first of all, was something that I have, in all honesty, only become aware of and sensitive to in the last few years; the constant use of the term “Indian:” Indian was used over and over again in all three of these reports. Not once did I hear Native American. And the “who cares” attitude of the reporters and talking-heads was as obnoxious as I always find it to be.

    I still believe you must be somewhat dead from the heart up to get a broadcast journalism degree and gig.

    Second, I noted in these students what I have noted about myself, when I was their age: as a white child, I had been completely desensitized to how racist terminology and symbols effect/affect others. And this was not only true with Native Americans but with other races as well. I didn’t dislike or hate anyone on the basis of their race or skin color. So, by the time I was in high school, I was more than certain there was no racist tendency in me. Life, over the years, however, would prove to me how wrong I had been. In fact, life is still proving this to me!

    It is sad, but these kids have no idea that their mascot is racist and thus harmful to Native Americans. And I do mean they have no idea. My guess is, these young people, for the most part, harbor no animosity or hatred towards Native Americans. Their culturally-induced ignorance has created this insensitivity in them. When they say they don’t see their mascot as being racist, they truly mean it. They don’t sense the blatant racism so evident in this grotesque mascot, because they have been trained/conditioned to be insensitive to anything that does not impact them, personally. And part of this training/conditioning, this mind-control/indoctrination, is due to their almost total ignorance of the history and cultures of other peoples. They have no idea of the atrocities their White European ancestors perpetrated on the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America. None, as you know all too well.

    And I am speaking from experience here, not just as a former teacher but as a former student as well. I had no idea of the true history of this country until I began to investigate it for myself in my mid forties. It is amazing to me, and sad, that even now, in my late sixties, I am still unaware of my racist tendencies, in so many, many ways. And these tendencies are not based on bigotry and hate, they are based on my ignorance of history and the truth!

    I am sorry you were accosted by these low-life idiots, but I am not surprised. This country was founded on the ideology/religiosity that “all white men are created equal,” that we the white people are “the chosen,” and so no other race matters.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Such crucial and eloquently described insights, Sojourner. Thank you so much for sharing these 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • dolphin says:

      –I still believe you must be somewhat dead from the heart up to get a broadcast journalism degree and gig—
      I have a degree in Communications. And I walked away from a good paying job with my state’s health dept that is being run by DHS because my instincts were telling me something wasn’t right. I knew they were going to want me to lie to the public. Just wanted to point out that not everyone with a Communications degree has a dead heart. And I am also on a path of awakening to ignorance.

      It’s only recently that my instincts have been confirmed — look up false flags on youtube for another point of view on the so-called terror attacks. It will blow your mind. The media has been instrumental in creating fear and hysteria in the public by actively participating with the powers that be for events that were portrayed as terror attacks, but in fact were emergency preparedness drills.

      And the media was used to whip up hatred and fear of the Native Americans at Wounded Knee. I only learned of this recently. They portrayed the Native Americans as “friendly” or “hostile” according to whether they were willing to move to a reservation or not. And the ones that resisted were murdered. 300 men, women, and children were killed AFTER they gave up their weapons.

      Liked by 3 people

      • sojourner says:

        I apologize! I was angry when I responded to this.

        I know there are good people in all professions. And I respect you for having the guts to not go along with the programming you saw happening. If only the majority of broadcasters would follow your lead.

        Your last paragraph does, however, spell out why many of us view the media as we do.

        Thank you for responding.

        Liked by 2 people

        • dolphin says:

          I know you were frustrated. I am too! I believed in the Press as being the element that held the key to an informed public, and therefore, good government. It’s depressing as hell.
          If you need a little lift, look up Queen Latifah’s rendition of America the Beautiful at the superbowl on youtube. It’s a great way to remember what’s important and how beautiful this land is.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you, Dolphin 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • sojourner says:

          Thank you for understanding and taking the time to respond back!

          I hear you. I have been going through this process for well over a decade, and it still wears me down sometimes.

          The old saying, “The truth hurts,” is pretty accurate! Sometimes it really does hurt.

          Thanks again.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you so much for sharing your background, experiences, and ethical choices, Dolphin. I also appreciate your crucial thought-provoking comments about the role media has played to legitimize exploitation, oppression, and mass murder. (Perhaps even “white-wash” terrorism?)

        Liked by 1 person

        • dolphin says:

          Yeah, Carol, I just wish more folks would do the same. I ended up losing my house, which I knew was a very real possibility. But most folks are not willing to do the same — they have to maintain their lifestyle. They must keep up with the Joneses. They must keep up their status. I guess that comes down to choosing your Master — money or God.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve made similar choices, Dolphin. Looking back. I’m not sorry for those decisions. No amount of money can buy integrity or bring peace of mind…

          Liked by 1 person

  6. sojourner says:

    Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    Sit down with your children, Mr and Ms Merica, and share the following article/video with them. It is your responsibility, as a parent, to instill in your children the respect for others and their cultures, not the education system.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. sojourner says:

    I know I already wrote too much, but I just want to say this, what you have done, and are still doing, is of great importance to all of us!

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Carol, your struggle for the rights of Native Americans has been a long one. Our stereotypes of the other are so ingrained in us that we are unaware of the ways that we dehumanize and offend others. I, too, am guilty of such insensitivity towards peoples of other cultures. Thank you for raising these issues.

    It’s no coincidence that I found your blog. (I don’t believe in coincidences.) My second novel in progress is set in the region of the native indigenous peoples – Arawaks, Caribs, and Warraus – of my native land Guyana. Through your writings, I have become more sensitive to the ways in which I develop the Amerindian characters in my novel. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I just watched the video, Carol. Lovely to hear your gentle voice speaking softly yet firmly for respect. I have little to add beyond what Sojourner eloquently wrote. I simply wanted to thank you for speaking up for human dignity and understanding. It will serve all people everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. dolphin says:

    Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    See my comment on the blog for my thoughts on this important post —

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carol, I cannot find any other words to write that are more eloquent than Sojourner. Thank you for these important posts. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dolphin says:

    —I’ve made similar choices, Dolphin. Looking back. I’m not sorry for those decisions. No amount of money can buy integrity or bring peace of mind…—
    You know, Carol, this will sound strange, but it is very comforting to read that. It’s comforting to know that I’m not out here on my own trying to do what’s right. Sometimes I feel like everyone has lost all sense of compassion and justice and integrity. I seriously think the world has gone crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does often feel that way to me, too. That’s why I am so grateful for this wonderful blogging network. I have been blessed to meet caring people like you from so many parts of the nation and world. Many who are part of the structure are sociopathic, and that’s what corporate media wants us to believe is normal, to kill our will to resist…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. themofman says:

    Certainly a bone of contention for me. There was a time when American press would routinely refer to blacks as “niggers” (it’s not just the use of the word that’s offensive, it’s the mentality and history behind it) in their publications. Some of those papers still exist with new “standards” of reporting but you still must always take in what you read and see with a grain of salt.

    Whether written, photographed or A/V recorded, a lot of times the news isn’t even filtered through a reporter’s perceptions. Their editors and producers tend to have the final word as to how reportage is presented or even if it will make it to print or air.

    Even in the west where we like to believe that the established media is free (from government interference), the media outlets have agendas. Always have. Many of those agendas support the aims of wealthy sponsors and money-making enterprises (often just as bad as government interference).

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33237-why-sale-of-national-geographic-to-fox-signals-perilous-times-for-photojournalism

    http://reverbpress.com/business/rupert-murdoch-national-geographic-layoffs/

    Freaky that I rely on media reports to support my point, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Allan. These are such important insights about dehumanizing media portrayals of those deemed as inferior, and the power of editors and producers to determine the final messages. Thank you also for sharing links for alternative news sources and raising a crucial question about the wisdom of putting one’s faith in any single source, even if it is less biased…

      Like

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