It’s disappointing to read the news each day from around the world and see more and more cases of violence and hatred that is driven by racism and xenophobia.
As much as the human race is marvellous in its ability to create new technology and advance our quality of life, we constantly show that we have not learnt from our history of violent acts against each other; violent acts against each other that have all been caused by an element of racism or xenophobia.
But violence throughout history is not the topic of this discussion. My discussion is that I believe media is to blame for a large part of racism and xenophobia around the world.
Without doubt, media is the single most influential platform that society is influenced by. Every minute of the day we are exposed to television, radio, newspapers, social media, marketing and advertising. Every minute of the day information from media is influencing our thoughts, opinions and the way we act.
But how does media make us more racist and xenophobic? Well the evidence is in the content of the media. Take a look at media from around the world over the past week. Most of the content will have an element of racism and xenophobia simply because of the stereotyping that media has in its content.
Without singling out individual media sources, as collectively they all do the same, here are some examples of racist and xenophobic influencing by the media.
“A black teenager was found guilty this week of robbery and violent assault”
“Gay man chosen as CEO of Fortune 500 company.”
“A group of Muslim men protested today in Melbourne.”
“Christian school is awarded top honours”
“Australian Muslim Group – states ban the burqa organiser ignorant.”
Every minute of our day, media is influencing racism and xenophobia through their racist and xenophobic stereotyping. And if you are not convinced then consider the alternative.
How would you perceive the news if it did not mention the colour of a man who committed robbery and assault? How would you react to the news if it did not mention that a gay man had become the CEO of a fortune 500 company, instead just stating a man? How would you feel if the news did not mention Muslims as being the group who attended a protest, instead just a group of people, and how would you interpret the news if it only stated the name of a school who won top honours instead of stating it was Christian?
The deliberate stereotyping of individuals and groups by media does create racist and xenophobic thoughts in us as individuals – it influences our perceptions – making us think that if the individual or group wasn’t Muslim or wasn’t gay or wasn’t Christian or wasn’t black then it would not of happened.
I have very close friends from all walks of life; Gay, Asian, Aboriginal, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Indian and the list goes on. But I never introduce my friends or associates to other friends as my gay friend, my black friend, my Muslim friend or my heterosexual friend. I expect that all of my friends and associates to treat each other equally and judge whether they like the person or not based on their own perceptions, not by what I have told them.
So in a world that is increasingly showing more violent acts driven by racism and xenophobia, the media needs to take more responsibility and it needs to stop influencing our perceptions through deliberate stereotyping of individuals and groups.
Lets stop racism and xenophobia and lets stop the violence against each other.