Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook posts and came across the amazing accomplishments posted by friends, family, and colleagues. I was so glad to finally see positive images of people of color on social media.
I continued to think about all of the usual images we see in the media of people of color; a flash across the screen of ethnic faces suspected in committing some crime. This is not something new. There always seems to be a negative connotation surrounding people of color. It’s rarely just a great story of accomplishments or contributions. Even if the story is about a victim, there always seems to be some negative unnecessary information attached to it. What do we expect is going to happen to our youth of color if all of the examples they see on television or social media are always negative?
Even our youth are portrayed in a way that criminalizes them when they are the victim. I was reading about the death of a young black man, and the press coverage surrounding his death was quite limited. He lived in the projects, and elevators s not surprisingly weren’t working in his building. He was walking up the stairs to visit a friend when he was attacked and stabbed to death over his cell phone. To my knowledge, the attackers were never caught. But at the bottom of this article, they included an arrest he had for possession. Please, tell me, what did this have to do with anything? He was a young man brutally killed, and instead of focusing on the tragic violence over a CELL PHONE, or that the attackers haven’t paid for their crimes, the media felt the need to include this information, which had no influence in the incident, whatsoever. Nobody is perfect; everybody makes mistakes. The reality is if this were a young white man in a middle-class or affluent neighborhood, this would have been headline news, and the media would have only promoted his achievements and what a travesty it is to lose such a young life. Nobody deserves to die like this – nobody. His life mattered; it mattered to all of the people whose lives he had touched, and it mattered to me. This young man was actually one of my former students. The article never discussed how bright or funny he was. I remember he had an epiphany one day when we were talking, and to this day, I use it with my other teens.
I found out about his death about a year ago, and only because I was told by a former colleague. As I said, his tragic death was recognized by the media, and when it was, they felt the need to share negative information about him at the end of the article. Unfortunately, I am not really surprised by this; it’s just typical of how media continues to negatively brand our youth and people of color and biased influence on society.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has recently brought to light a lot of the injustices of institutional racism and now is starting to be talked about more in public and open forums. Unfortunately, even the Black Lives Matter movement is overwrought with negativity. People are peacefully demonstrating to bring awareness to violence and cruelty brought to Black Lives solely for the color of their skin. The continued slaughter of Black men by the police is not a new issue. It’s recently been brought to the spotlight because of cell phones and social media. Many people have voiced that they feel this movement isn’t necessary (isn’t necessary for whom?), but the same was said during the Civil Rights Movement; it’s been said that, at the time, people felt the same way about that movement. However, today, the civil rights movement is celebrated and revered as something that made a great change in our country’s history. Hopefully, one day, we will look back and say the same of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As I said earlier, my visit to Facebook sparked an idea of beginning to change the perception of people of color in the media (at least within my circles). Why aren’t we getting to see and hear about the positive accomplishments and successes that are achieved by people of color? Why are we not honoring these amazing men and women? Why are we not celebrating their magnificent contributions? And finally, why are we not telling their stories of success?
These are the men and women who are often forgotten but who are the fantastic role models for our children.
I thought that it was about time we hear about these stories and accomplishments that have positively impacted our communities, it led me to this – a blog series on the amazing, successful men and women of color who should be featured and celebrated in social media. I reached out to of few of those talented Facebook friends, and I’m honored that they are willing to share some of their stories… so that I can share them with you!