Worldwide there has been controversy regarding racism, inequality, and injustice for centuries. Men and women have been targeted negatively based on the color of their skin. Despite the laws that have been created for equality, there are still many flaws that have not been corrected. Within this paper identities, both social and self, will be discussed on how they are undergoing profound change and how the media plays a major role in identifying oneself. The lives of those who are colored are faced with injustice and/or death because of how the media portrays their livelihood.
Historical facts and various data have been collected over the years proves that justice must be done immediately about the inequality men and women of color face everyday. “If we look at our society as a complex system of organizations, institutions, individuals, processes, and policies, we can see how many factors interact to create and perpetuate social/economic/political arrangements that are harmful to people of color and to our society as a whole,” (“Kirwan Institute”).Order now
“Housing, education, and health care are just a few examples of how material and symbolic advantages and disadvantages are still often distributed along racial lines,” (“Kirwan Institute”). These two quotations, both from Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, seem to attribute to the injustice to those of color. Most of the time people do not understand the difference between racism, inequality, and injustice. They only understand what is portrayed through the media and their own personal experiences. Racism is discrimination. Inequality is unequal opportunities. And lastly, injustice is an unjust act. Each of these three words tie into one one another when it comes to race.
Men and women in general believe they are equal for the most part due to their personal relationships. For example, a man and a woman in a marriage are equal. Equality within a personal relationship is not determined by laws, regulations, or social expectations. It is simply a trusted bond that is based on emotional communication. Color does not play a role in personal relationships, but other factors contribute to their everyday lifestyle. People of color are discriminated, not offered equal opportunities everyday and it is unjust. Things are changing for the worse, not the better. Because of racism, inequality, and injustice, identities are changing profoundly.
Identities are undergoing deeply felt changes. The changes are not only affecting themselves, but those around them. The environment and/or culture an individual surrounds themselves with plays a big role into how identities are created, maintained, and transformed. Everyone wants to belong. Identities are categorized with the following: nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, etc. According to James D. Fearon, author of “What is Identity (As We Now Use the Word)?”, “In the former sense, an “identity” refers simply to a social category, a set of persons marked by a label and distinguished by rules deciding membership and (alleged) characteristic features or attributes,” (2). Fearon defines identity in a way for readers to grasp the concept. He also explains that having an identity is “more-or-less unchangeable,” (Fearon 2).
Race is an individual’s physical appearance. That includes skin color, eye shape, physiognomy (Frable 145). On the other hand, ethnicity is based on where an individual is from, the language they speak, as well as the food they eat. According to Frable, the biggest issue the United States has solely been focused on is race.
Identity begins in the adolescent years because it allows a person to sort out their childhood identities and establish a attainable path for adulthood. In order for one to establish themselves, they need others. Identities are maintained based off what people believe in and what an individual defines themselves as. They believe in themselves, know who they are, and what they want. The memories that are made each and every day, good or bad, shapes everyone’s identity. The results people often see on a day to day basis is the process they go through. For example, everyday different personas including speech patterns, clothing styles, and peer groups are being adopted and/or left behind.
As times are vastly changing, it makes it a little more difficult to “fit in.” For centuries people of color yearned to fit in and it continues today. Because of the actions White men and women portrayed over the years, Blacks have had a target on their backs. This is how historical identities have been modified over time. Because of the color of their skin, they were outcasted. Whites have their own “memberships” and Blacks are not allowed to be members. Times may have changed, but the faults of others’ have carried into today’s society.
Identity can be defined in many ways, but the underlying concept of all the definitions researched have a concept in common; recognition. Each and every definition is not wrong, but simply what separates each is the diversity.
The race and/or ethnicity a person picks out sets themselves aside from others. Those of a certain race include those who fit into this ideal world while others are excluded. The way we think and do things are based off of the situations we are put in. It makes everyone different. The concepts we learn and believe regarding race and ethnicity in the United States can be seen through experiences, social life, and the media.
The media influences the environment and culture people grow up in. From music to reading textbooks, it helps define identities and as time passes by, they grow to have respect for it. The representations of Blacks that were portrayed through the media has also helped redefine their identities as well. Not only is being Black in America a crime, but being a Black man sets them aside with a target on their back.
Many people try to recreate themselves through social media. With apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram people attempt to create a facade of themselves. They do things they would not do in the real world. The ultimate goal is for a new personality to be formed to look like someone different other than themselves. People then lose trust because of the internet; but for a person who is already lost, social media can be an outlet to let everything go anonymously. This distrust makes a person want to be a little untruthful themselves; if someone else is doing it why can they not? They then begin to believe in the lies that are made up and lose the sense of reality. If one continues with the same lie, eventually they will begin to believe that it is true. When lies make up their true identity, then do they really have a self?
As people create their identities, making their lives seem perfect, they lose a sense of their true selves. This is both a plus side and a downside to the rise of social media. There are people who are able to say whatever they want to the world without feeling too criticized. Some people use this anonymous power to attack other people. For the people who use it as a form of expression, it allows them to have the security of showing their interests without the feeling that they will be persecuted.
Since people recreate themselves and change every aspect of their real life, people have become distrustful of the media. Questions start to raise of what is real and what is not. The media is a means of communication to the world. Many individuals look towards the media for answers to their questions that have been raised by the actions of others. As the dominant means of mass communication, the media “usher in a new paradigm, transforming, how we think, behave, relate, and create,” (Miller 31). People see the world as parts instead of whole because of what is portrayed.
Images and messages of men and women, regarding gender and/or sexuality are shown throughout the media. It is very unlikely that the media’s ideas have little to none impact of audiences’ identities. Because the media has vastly changed over the years, what was taught years ago may not be relevant today due to change.
Popular culture and advertising is hard to avoid in day to day activities. Situations and relationships are shown from different angles and point of views throughout the media. The media shows its viewers how the world works and reacts. In other words, it can be referenced to the saying “monkey see, monkey do.” Viewers can interpret what they hear or see and believe it is okay because the media said so.
In this day and age, society is heavily submerged around the media. Although the media has its flaws, it is creating diversity because of the changes people are making when it comes to their self and social identities. Believe it or not, each and every identity has its capabilities and its incapabilities.
Commercials on the radio, the news, and social media sites discuss topics in regards to Black men being stopped by police officers and being mistaken for another criminal. In today’s society, justice is not being served. Black men are being gunned down and shot to death by their very own men and women in blue. Ironically, the police officers are not just White, they are of color.
Police officers, whether they are Black, Blue, or Grey should all have similar identities. They belong to a “group.” A group that protects and serves the lives of people. Race, ethnicity, or gender of each and every officer should not determine how they make an arrest. According to author Ronald Weitzer and Steven Tuch, “race is one of the strongest predictors of attitudes towards police,” (494). Also, social class and background factors shapes individuals attitudes. Social class can be defined as an individual’s educational attainment as well as their family’s income. On the other hand, an individual’s background factors include age, gender, and the community one identifies themselves with.
In today’s country’s criminal justice system, Blacks are treated more harshly. Within Black neighborhoods many believe the police protection is worse than in White neighborhoods because of the lack of support the community experiences and views from the social media platforms. There is also very little confidence in the police officers in terms of treating both Blacks and Whites equally. The problem of racism, inequality, and injustice is very widespread throughout this country.
Newspapers, talk shows, radio stations all have different opinions in regards to Blacks. Today and back then, there is a role to be played. People nowadays are quiet, sit back, and stay out the way. But, that is where more problems occur because without people speaking up and letting others, including police officers, know how they feel, matters only will get worse.
On the upside, as much as social media has reduced self-identities, social media has made a positive impact on society when used in a encouraging manner. Social media can positively affect society by providing a canvas for a ravishing masterpiece. Many people find it easier to express their self-identities in an environment isolated of the anxiety a real-life situation possesses. Along with the ease of anxiety, social media has provided society a unique opportunity to create our self-image. There are many routes available on social media for someone to express themselves. One can easily mask their identity through social media due to the fact that social media allows for more control. In other words, people have a choice in the matter of what to post. Contrary to hiding one’s identity, a person can reflect on their self-image without having any anxiety from peers.
Social media is seen as a new public sphere. Nikita Carney, author of “All Lives Matter, but so Does Race: Black Lives Matter and the evolving Role of Social Media,” determined that “the important role of social media as a platform for recent discussions of racism and police violence necessitates a revisiting of classical sociological theory in light of modern technology,” (4). The media gives viewers an insight to what is going on beneath the surface regarding events like Black Lives Matter(BLM) movement. There are many individuals who are unable to participate in events like BLM, and in that case, the media gives them access to engage.
Race is an important factor in the Black Lives Matter movement. For years, the color of a person’s skin made them a target. A target to be bullied, mistreated, and even killed. Michael Brown and Eric Garner are two young men, that were killed in cold blood and their killers were not indicted. These two deaths were not the first. There have been many deaths of young men of color whose killers walked scott-free with only a slap on the wrist. Because people all across the country were sick and tired of the racism, inequality, and injustice, they took matters into their own hands and used the media to “call out racist rhetoric and practices,” (Carney 7).
Before social media existed, many people lacked degrading feelings of self-image, yet the tide has turned. Society is now constantly veered to the prominent teaching that self-identity is the very basis of humans, and if one has an inferior self-identity, that person is inferior to society. Subsequently, there becomes a loss of identity when one becomes wrapped up in all the hype on that is shown within the media. Society as a whole is not recognizing the detrimental outcome of the negative brainwashing social media can have on people. Society has simply become immune to popular influences and believes that the way of popular self-identity pertains to what each individual’s self-identity should be.
For years, people from Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. to Barack Obama, have always fought for the rights of Blacks. Men and women of color have to face inequality and injustice because of other’s “identities.” How people perceive situations through the media shapes everyone’s identity. Because times are rapidly changing and advancing, identities are conforming in every direction. As long as the separation between Blacks and non-Blacks exist, controversy will continue.