Diversity in the media

2016 has marked the second year in a row where the major nominees for the Oscars have been all white. Even President Obama has put his two cents into the conversation, “Are we making sure everyone gets a fair shot?”

But it isn’t just the lack of representation for African Americans. According to the LA times, it has been 54 years (since 1957) since a Latina person has won an Academy Award. However, white actors are being applauded when playing Latino and Asian characters.

But this isn’t a new issue. Ever since the film industry has started, it has been white dominated. Maybe people have been giving more attention to diversity in media recently because of the popularity Black Lives Matter has been given, and the resurgence of topics being brought to popular media because of social media. Obviously the hashtag #oscarssowhite has brought together many people with similar ideas to solidify what they want to see in the media. According to a study done on 18 top Hollywood companies done by NPR, 94% of the CEOS were white, and 100% were male. The overwhelming white dominance in the film industry both cuts away important stories that can be told through a minority’s perspective, but also takes away opportunities from talented people of color and LGBT people.

African Americans have been going against Hollywood by making their own films and TV networks. Although African Americans have made strides in diversity, African Americans have repeatedly been given stereotypical roles. Like being a maid or a slave.

Other minorities like Asians and Latinos have been given stereotypical roles as well. Asians are usually given roles that are related to being smart and not speaking English. Latinos are also treated like African Americans and Asians in that they often are portrayed as servants or people who can’t speak English.

LGBT members are rarely given diverse roles in popular film, they don’t go far from the flamboyant feminine gay men. Like roles in Modern Family and WIll and Grace. However more diverse LGBT roles are now being seen in popular series such as Orange is the New Black. 

Indigenous people are possibly the most stereotyped for example they are often portrayed as being “blood thirsty savages” and of being red face. Their plight has been gaining more attention due to the push by the Native community to change the logo of the Washington Redskins.

It’s important to have roles for minorities that aren’t just stereotypes. Dejra Bishop, a 15 year old sophomore at Highland Park Senior High, talks about diversity, “It feels good because I’m not just stereotyped as something bad. Black people can be good characters as well.”


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