Historically in the United States and other Western cultures, Caucasians have been associated with privilege while other races have been associated with inferiority and labeled as “others” within society.
According to African American studies scholar Dr. Darnell Hunt, a UCLA professor and author of several books, the media plays an influential role in shaping how society thinks about and the interactions between races in our everyday lives.
“If you don’t have a lot of face-to-face contact with a group, and everything you know about them, or you think you know about them, is what you see in the media then the media wields an enormous amount of power in shaping the way you might respond to that group,” Dr. Hunt said.
Dr. Ana-Christina Ramon and Dr. Darnell Hunt discuss media and U.S. race relationsDr. Ana-Christina Ramon and Dr. Darnell Hunt of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA discuss the role media plays in shaping how society thinks about race.
Dr. Hunt, along with social psychologist Dr. Ana-Christina Ramon, assistant director and associate researcher of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, co-authored the 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report.
From television and radio to movies and social media, Americans are bombarded with messages about race.
“It’s entertainment programming, so you are not going in-depth into the story enough,” says Dr. Ramon. “It’s just focusing in on particular instances that are scandalous, in some way, that incite emotion.”
The advent of social media is also changing the the way news events are reported.
“With social media, everyone has a voice,” says Dr. Ramon. “It is an opportunity that is different than from decades ago, whereas now, just anybody, from their computer, can have their opinion heard and that definitely does affect social movements.”
Both scholars sat down with Mike Walter in our Los Angeles studios to discuss the role media plays in shaping perceptions about diversity in society.
Follow Dr. Darnell Hunt on Twitter: @darnell_hunt
Follow UCLA Bunche Center on Twitter: @BuncheUCLA