Minority Groups in the Media Michael Speciale

In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority. -Edmund Burke
One of these people killed 12 civilians and the other stole from a convenience store... who's who?


As we look at the next two pictures take a look at how the two people are portrayed. What is different? What is the same? Why do you think these people are portrayed this way?

On July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes (pictured above) open fired on a movie theater in Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 70.
Michael Brown (pictured above) was 18 years old when he was shot 12 times by Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, after he was suspected to have robbed a gas station.


Both the men in the above pictures were criminals in the sense of the law. The first, a murderer of 12 innocent people in movie theater, and the second a thief who stole from a convenience store. Although Holmes was a much more serious criminal in this case, he was portrayed as a "Brilliant Science Student" as if to make the fact that he killed 12 people and injured 70 a little more reasonable. On the other hand, Michael Brown, who had not injured anyone and who was shot by a white police officer, was said to have struggled with the police officer as a way to justify the 12 shots fired by the police officer. The media has the tendency to portray white criminals as people with "troubled pasts" or mental illnesses to account for their wrongdoings while African Americans are portrayed as natural criminals who one would suspect would commit a crime.

African American Stereotypes in the Media

Recently there has been an increased amount of media coverage on police brutality and the police's relationships with members of the African American community. 80% of black Americans asked in a survey say that the police use deadly force when it is unnecessary while 60% of white Americans surveyed stated that the deadly force is usually necessary(Whibey, 2015). This is a prime example of the improper stereotypes white Americans have when they view black Americans as they view them as criminals, rapists and thieves with no evidence to back their opinions. A hashtag on twitter was started to increase awareness for the negative stereotypes that are common when African Americans are portrayed in the news.


In all the pictures above members from the African American community were showing how they are almost always negatively portrayed by the media. The choice of picture used when an event involving an African American makes the news, has a large impact on how the public views African Americans. By using sometimes incriminating or unpleasant pictures of African Americans in the media, the entire story of that individual isn't shown, only the portion that the media wants the public to see.


The first thing Tim Wise does is strike down the view that racial segregation doesn't exist. He then goes on to say that, "eighty-five percent white folks live in communities with virtually no people of color around." This shows how the stereotypes that surround the African American community are created by people that are oblivious to the way that African American's live because they simply do not interact with them. Tim Wise then goes on to show the media's role in all this by stating that the only time most white Americans interact with African Americans, it is through the media where they see one of two things; black american millionaires and superstars, or black american criminals. The people who are watching TV, middle aged white Americans, cannot relate to either one of those groups of people because they are too extreme, and that is how stereotypes are formed.

White PRIVILEGE in media

White Americans are often painted as the victims of crimes, even if they themselves are the ones who are guilty. As shown by the photo above, both groups of men were arrested for the same thing, burglary, but notice how the group of college students on the left are wearing suits and ties in their picture while the men on the right are all shown hanging their heads with sad faces. This is a prime example of how the media uses white privilege to show in favor of white Americans and discriminate against African Americans. Both groups of men did the same thing how every they are portrayed in very different lights.

MExican and Hispanic People in the media

In the most recent election, republican candidate Donald Trump shared his, very controversial, views on the immigration problems faced in America. Trump stated in his speech, "they're rapists", when referring to Mexican immigrants. Trump did not say that a select few were rapists or that not all Mexicans were rapists until later in his speech when he says, "some I assume are good people." With this statement and many others in his speech, Trump portrays Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists and for a very specific reason. Now that Trump has been elected, he has begun passing bills and laws that restrict immigration which he can do with ease after persuading his audience that all Mexicans are criminals.

How has the media influenced you?



Although the media would like you to believe that most of the immigrants in the US are here illegally in order to gain your trust to pass deportation and travel laws, in reality, about 30,000,000 out of 41,000,000 (73%) immigrants have legal visas or US citizenship(Homeland Security, 2016).


At this moment in time, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies are owned, run, or managed by immigrants(Fortune, 2016).


The number of immigrants coming into the United States has remained constant since 2009 and has only fluctuated by 3% within the last 20 years(Homeland Security, 2016).


The number of immigrants from Mexico has actually been DECREASING over the past 5 years. Furthermore, the number of deportations has actually decreased slightly from 2015 to 2016(Homeland Security, 2016)!


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