A minority is defined by Brittanica as a “culturally, ethnically, or racially distinct group that coexists with but is subordinate to a more dominant group.”

In America, we know who the dominant group is–  the group that gets the most representation in politics, law and in the media. From Hollywood movies and television shows, to modeling, sports, the arts, etc. In most recent years, we have seen the media and entertainment industry slowly but surely become more integrated. If Lupita Nyong’o can be named one of the most beautiful women on the planet, then we have surely progressed as a society.

From Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner  to black actresses being the lead characters on primetime television. We can all agree that representation of minorities in the media has come a very long way. We went from the negative representation of Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, to becoming comedic relief then to later being seen as the human beings that we are. Representation influences and inspires audiences.

representation matters

Over the years, our representation in the media has grown. Black men were introduced in media as ignorant violent brute men (i.e., The Birth Of A Nation) and these representation have grown to have men type casted as violent criminals, history shows that these portrayals not only influence the community it represents but the attitude of the surrounding communities. In the past we have craved to be represented in the media, and represented properly. From black women being seen as mammies to whores but now as lawyers, professors and individuals that hold power. Black men being seen as rapist and savages to violent criminals and now finally being seen as the president, lawmakers and artists. These positive portrayals began in the 1960s and 1970s with Shaft, Julia, The Fosters and of course I Spy. These positive portrayals seem to have grown and became especially popular in the 80s and 90s with A Different World, a show that allowed their audience to see african americans in college and graduating. With shows like these, audience members who identified and cared about things like college, without A Different World,  I don’t think I would’ve actually finished college.

representation matters

Even though the portrayals and representation of the African American community has progressed, America has a lot of work to do in positively including Native Americans, Middle Easterners, Hispanics/Latinx. Everyone deserves to be represented in the media and in roles that aren’t the stereotypical roles of a terrorist, manicurists, and/or criminal.