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Jarel Solomon

It Will Always be This Way

Diversity is the state of having variety. What one thinks is diverse stems all from their
perception of diversity its self. The perception of an individual comes from factors such as life
experiences, relationships, and most importantly, the media. The media plays the greatest role in
shaping our views of diversity. From the news we watch every morning, the actors we watch on
reality television, the music artists we listen to, to even the people we follow on Instagram and
Twitter all shape our perception of diversity.
For example we can take the perception of interracial relationships in the United States.
In 1968 Harry Belafonte and Petula Clark sang together on an NBC special. This event made
television history not because of how great these two sung but because the fact that Petula
touched Harry's forearm during their duet. This was the first time ever that a white woman had
touched a black man on United States television. This very short moment of interracial
touching caused controversy in American newspapers and magazines. Now think of how many
times you have witnessed an interracial relationship in your favorite movie, television program,
or on the street for that matter today. The perception of society changes over time from exposure
in the outlets of the media.
Michael Omi states in his essay In Living Color: Race and American Culture regarding
a popular comedy that In August, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations bestowed the
Golden Pit Awards on television programs, commercials, and movies that were deemed
offensive to racial and ethnic groups. Saturday Night Live, regarded by many media critics as a
politically progressive show, was singled out for the Platinum Pit Award for its comedy skit
Ching Chang which depicted a Chinese storeowner and his family in a derogatory
manner.(626) Now this skit even though it has depicted the Chinese negatively was planned to
diversify the viewing audiences and even the show itself which gives those watching it a belief
that you can create diversity by simply recognizing another identity of people if you are doing it
in a derogatory way or not. This not only brings negative light to a race of people but really
narrows the perception of diversity of the viewers of this program.
The medias influence on our views of diversity brings to mind the main character of
Jack Lopezs Of Cholos and Surfers. Being a young Latino boy growing up on the east side
Los Angeles ,which was the home turf for many cholo street gangsters, his perception of
diversity could have been very closed or narrow based on the environment he was being brought
up in. But he diversified himself in a form from his interest in the Surfer Quarterly magazine
that he begged his father to purchase for him from the local Food Giant. This outlet of the media
influenced this young mans perception of diversity and opened his eyes to a culture far different
from his own.
The news coverage also has always been the premises for displaying the views of and
how diverse one region or city is. This is when you hear the stories about events happening is the
urban community when referring to any predominately African American area while a very
similar or even the same type of area populated by a predominate Caucasian community is
referred to as suburban or rural. One example of this occurring is in the stories surrounding
the Baltimore heroin epidemic from the perspective of the heroin addict. The lower class African
American addicts in the cities are displayed as criminals going into allies to supply their highs in
the National Geographic news coverage while talk show hosts like Travis Stork covering the
epidemic travel to the suburbs to sit, talk, and find help for a young white male who has been
strung out on the drug since his teen years when prescription pills started to get too expensive.
This again shows a certain form of diversity but at the cost of the people being represented in a
negative context because the same people, which in this case are the heroin addicts, are being
portrayed in two completely opposite ways.
In summary, media will always shape our perception which in turn will shape our views
of diversity. Media outlets such as the internet, music, television, and magazines morph how
people think and live their lives. Perception has and will always change over time based on how
often new topics and arguments are broadcasted in media outlets. Our current generation is far
more diverse than the ones before us. The next generation after us will be even more diverse and
it will always be this way.