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Reflection

4 Dec

Prior to taking this course I had a more narrow understanding of the ways in which media actually portrayed and shaped individuals identity. Through out this semester my eyes have been opened to how complex this subject is. I have gained new perspectives on different dimensions of media that I never even knew existed. We read a wide variety of articles and research papers, which really helped me to see things from different views.

In this course we learned that news and media tell us what to think about, not necessarily what opinion to hold. However, I personally believe the news and media needs to take more responsibility for what the public ends up believing. When people are only exposed to one side of the story or issue, they are quick to accept it without doing the research themselves.

Throughout the semester we covered the negative and the positive aspects of media. I really enjoyed working on the pro-social project. The project engaged my creative side and allowed me to incorporate what we learning. I had a great time getting to know my classmates and listening to the different ideas people came up with. This course was overall very informational and rewarding.

#WeAreCrds

26 Nov

Crossroads Church is an organization that invites people to experience religion, and encourages individuals to change the city and the world. In 1996 Crossroads began in a class room of Clark Montessori in Hyde Park. Crossroads now has sites in Oakley, Mason, Florence, the West Side, and Clifton. The organization faces serious societal issues head on, and uses their resources to spread knowledge and love. Unlike a more traditional church service, Crossroads uses a mix of multi-media productions and often uses examples from popular culture. They creatively use clips from YouTube, movies, and commercials to highlight an issue or idea. Crossroads has an online presence and is active on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Over the past couple of months Crossroads encouraged members of the church to post “selfies” with the hashtag #WeAreCrds (Crds is short for Crossroads). It was part of their “We Are” series where they showed people of all ages and races as part of the unique Crossroads community. Crossroads re-posted the selfies on their social media pages, and complied them together on banners, posters, and used them in videos. The main objective may have been to create a sense of community among crossroads members, but it also addressed problems of discrimination and stereotyping.

The Standpoint theory can be applied to the premise of their campaign. The theory describes that an individual’s own perspectives are shaped by his or her experiences in social locations and social groups. The campaign encourages people to view the world from different standpoints. The photos reveal different aspects of an individuals’ life, which allow others to get to know them on a more personal level. This idea is very similar to the popular Humans of New York campaign. “With over eight million followers on social media, HONY [Humans of New York] now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.” – A quote from the HONY blog. Another concept that ties in with this idea is, intersectionality, which examines how various biological, social and cultural categories of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels.

Crossroads wanted to show that they consist of everyday people, and that church can look different than the one you might have grown up in. They crushed the stereotype that church is only for old people, by advertising the wide age rage of members. Overall, the campaign strategy was very effective because it was simple and engaging. Anyone with a smartphone or camera and internet access could be a part of it. It connected people and continues to connect people all over the tri-state area. By clicking on the hashtag #WeAreCrds you can see every picture that has been posted with that hashtag. Currently on Instagram there are 1,813 photos tagged with that particular hashtag. It is pretty incredible in my opinion, and I look forward to seeing other campaigns follow this theme. I think it is a great way to get people involved and connected with others in their community and world. I strongly believe that prosocial media is powerful and can truly make a difference in our world. Imagine how beautiful the world would be if more individuals and organizations were spreading knowledge and love like this.

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Color in the Courtroom

8 Oct

The Good Wife is a political drama series on CBS that airs at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights. The show focuses on the life of Alicia Florrick, a successful lawyer and wife to Governor Peter Florrick. In the most recent episode, episode 3 of season 6, Alicia is faced with issues of her running her own law firm, with partner Cary Agos. The law firm Florrick/Agos, represents very high profile cases, yet retains an open an accepting environment. What I mean by that is, they do things their own way and take on cases that are unfavorable or risky. I have followed the show for the past couple seasons, yet was able to see it in a different light when viewing it this time. My purpose was to analyze it instead of to be entertained by it. I was able to identify several different representations of race in varying roles throughout the episode. Although individuals of various ethnic groups are represented, the majority of characters are white individuals. Most of the lawyers at Florrick/Agos are white, with the exception of one black male lawyer, who has just recently been promoted to a main role. This particular character, Dean Levine-Wilkins, played by Tyae Diggs is the perspective I chose to analyze. Dean is a polished black lawyer who had dreams of becoming a priest, until he read To Kill a Mockingbird, which changed his mind. He claims that he realized he wanted justice in this world not the next. In episode 2 of season 6 Dean decides to leave one of the largest law firms in Chicago for the start-up firm of Florrick/Agos. Uncertain and hesitant at first, he realizes the opportunity and impact he may have at the new firm. Dean identifies himself as an African American and discusses the challenges of moving up at the larger law firm because of his skin color. At the new firm he becomes a partner and a lead role in the show. Dean does not have as much influence as the other partners simply because he is new, but he has a strong voice and is quickly gaining credibility and power. In this episode we start to see him prove himself in the courtroom and in the conference room with other characters of the show. Other than when he identified himself as a person of color, his race is not mentioned. He is respected and acknowledged for his talents and skills as a lawyer.

In this particular episode I examined other roles played by black individuals. Consistent lead character is client of Florrick/Agos, Lemond Bishop. Lemond is a very wealthy businessman, drug dealer, gang leader, and family man, who’s involvement in illegal activities cause him to seek frequent legal action. In one scene you see him coaching his sons soccer team, wearing an expensive suit, while discussing the possible murder of a member of his crew. The members of Bishop’s crew, who carry out his requests are predominantly young black males. The way they dress and talk fulfill the “thuggish” stereotype. Although it is assumed they engage in illegal activities, they are not treated like criminals or anything less. In shows like Law and Order, we may see the criminals disrespected and talked down to. In this show we see their opinions represented as just as important as the innocent witness.

Towards the end of the episode, a member of the Black Caucus makes a quick appearance, in attempt to convince Alicia to hire people of color. He says, “African Americans have been completely ignored in campaign staffing for years now”. He is addressing issues of race within the political sphere; in effort to change the way people of color are represented.

Throughout this episode we see people of color characterized in several different ways in and out of the courtroom. There are black cops, witnesses, lawyers, clients, criminals, gang members, security guards, government officials, convicted felons, and friends. While the majority consists of white characters, I found that the show does an effective job at incorporating diversity and avoiding strong racial stereotypes.