Racism in the Media?

After reading the Eberhardt article, I was left thinking about how her studies can be seen in the media. There are plenty of TV shows, movies, and books about the criminal justice system, and I started thinking about how her findings show up in these media outlets. The first thing I thought of was an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit, where a rich white celebrity shoots and kills and unarmed black teen. After remembering the episode, I realized how Eberhardt’s studies show up in the episode. Just like Eberhardt, the episode talks about how black people are associated with crime, and how white people think that it is okay to treat black people more violently. The episode does not just talk about these stereotypes; it shows the consequences that follow.

I thought the use of real, valid examples of racism and stereotypes in an everyday media outlet was a fine line to follow. On the one hand, making people aware of these stereotypes that exist, in this case specifically in the criminal justice system, can help educate people about how stereotypes can so negatively affect African American’s in the criminal justice system. However, on the other hand, the last thing that is needed is for the stereotypes to be validated in anyway or portrayed in a way that makes the racism or stereotypes seem fake. Do you think that using actual findings from studies in popular media sources is good or bad? More specifically do you think it is helping to end racism, or validating it’s existence?

Here is a link to the promo for the episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit that I mentioned in the post:




1 thought on “Racism in the Media?”

  1. I think you ask a really interesting question about whether these portrayals are good or bad. It also comes back to the question of whether art (in this case media) reflects reality or reality reflects art. If art reflects reality, then these shows are validating the existing biases and re-representing them in a new medium. If life reflects art, then this would be potentially harmful, as heavy media viewers are more likely to absorb these images into their lives and use what they have learned from watching in their everyday thoughts and actions. Either way, I would be cautious to use these examples in the media unless they are carefully and intentionally counterbalanced with white criminals and other situations that disrupt common stereotypes or promote a new, less biased way of thinking and viewing the world.

Comments are closed.