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Friday, December 18, 2009

Study: TV May Perpetuate Race Bias

Study: TV May Perpetuate Race Bias

Time's story:

"...Led by Max Weisbuch, a postdoctoral student in the lab of Tufts psychology professor Nalini Ambady, researchers designed the multipart study to examine the communication of race bias on television to white college-age volunteers. Weisbuch and his team were intrigued by the fact that despite a significant reduction in overt expressions of racism in modern American society — the country has, after all, just elected its first black president — studies consistently find that many people still show biased or negative attitudes toward African-Americans, primarily through nonverbal means such as facial expressions, crossed arms and averted gazes. The psychologists wondered how such biases could persist in a society in which racism is socially unacceptable and indeed publicly denounced."

My take:

It is nothing new really for them to say that TV viewing perpetuates race bias. We all know that deep down.

In American and Brazilian television, blacks and other "minorities" tend to get sidelined in favor of the Caucasian, blue-eyed character. we tend to believe that in the United States huge steps forward have been made in the fight for equal rights and that tends to seep down, albeit, in a trickle, in their media. It is really natural for us to see a black news anchor or a black news presenter in American television. That is, when they are not doing the weather or filling in weekend spots. Not in Brazil, sadly.

Minorities, regardless of the baby steps in the U.S. have still a long way to go. There is a lot to be done and a lot of awareness to be developed even among minorities themselves. Education is the catalyst. Minorities have to overcome the victimization syndrome and set their sights higher. It is easy for us to say, though. However, if we do not attempt to at least incorporate changes in our consciousness. When will we do that?

Why do we tend to regard minorities with suspicion? Questions abound.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say TV perpetuates most biases whether they be based on race, sex, sexuality, nationality, whatever: TV uses dumbed-down character types to tell stories - sort of the Everyman syndrome - and since most of these stories are aimed at least here in the United States at middle America (not simply the Midwest but also the middle class), you get a lot of shows that perpetuate stereotypes.

    For example, I saw some show on the Food Network. It was basically the daily life of a bakery in New York City. One of the customers was an over-the-top drag queen and all the other customers and the employees kept looking at this drag queen like she'd come from outer space - their mouths agape, their eyes bugging. Everyone who was watching the show with me, were like, "But you're in New York. Why is this affecting you in this way?" My answer was "Because the show is aimed at middle America and that is how they would react and would expect other people to react."