Although it may seem to some that we are seeing more contributions from Black creators across the media spectrum, the roundtable conversation The Root Institute recently hosted raised some questions about the quality and quantity of what we are being exposed to when it comes to covering the Black community.
Each of the panelists have fought for more holistic representations of our community in the media. As the creator of the viral hashtag-turned-movement, #OscarsSoWhite, April Reign has been challenging the lack of representation of marginalized communities in Hollywood and beyond since 2015. Errin Haines is editor-at-large at The 19th, an independent, nonprofit newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy. An award-winning journalist with nearly two decades of experience, Haines was previously national writer on race for the Associated Press. She’s also worked at the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. Angela Rye has spent the better part of her media career calling out inequities in coverage. She is a prominent political strategist who offers regular on-air commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, MSNBC, and TV One. The depth of her dialogue ranges from political campaigns to more complex legislation that bears long-term implications nationally and internationally.
All three agree that criticism of the media’s portrayals of Black people is warranted; all too often the stories are negatively framed, with little nuance and even less empathy. April Reign notes the lack of what she calls “cultural competency.”
Can more diverse representation result in more comprehensive coverage of our community? That may be the answer, in part, but Rye asserts that we should also concentrate on creating our own platforms so that we don’t have to depend on the mainstream to allow us a seat at the table.
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