Reflection post

Due to the growing media influence, racism has evolved from “black and white” in the past to the multi-cultural issue it is now. Racism is a global issue faced by many countries. It is identified as a serious issue that can cause social unrest and moral panic in society. Racism also cause hate-crimes such as murder or racial harassment.

In the last few posts, we have looked into the growing influence that media possesses and also the issues on racism that grew along. We identified stereotyping as one of the main contributing factor to racism and have provided evidence to support the theory that media promotes racism by influencing the audience’s stereotype on different groups of people. This post will provide an insight on the role of media in contributing to the growing racism trend and the various theories that are involved.

Along with the improvement in the quality of life, access to different types of media is no longer limited to the rich and powerful. Mass media now serves as a convenient and important platform for people to gain knowledge and share information with the world.  However this convenience also has its disadvantages as people grew to heavily rely on media to gain new knowledge and information, so much to an extend it shape their mentalities and perceptions. As discussed in the second post, we explore how the abuse of Media Representation Theory in the media can influence the audience’s stereotype towards others. An example would be the reports on black people since the slave trade, how they portray black people and constantly associate them with terms like crime, drugs, rape and animalism (Diawara, 1993). This tend to leave a negative impression of the certain group in the audience’s mind and they are more likely to associate their future experiences based on their impression. Cultivation Theory is also being practiced in the third post, where we mentioned that racism is normalized. As the theory explains that media provide their audience a common perception and value based on what is portrayed on the TV, it could be due to the audiences constant exposure to racist context in everyday’s media contact thus they tend to get the impression that racism is normal.

As mentioned in the fourth post, we examined how the Agenda Setting Theory can have negative impact when the media is bias in being selective on reporting issues and how they tend to amplify certain issues or distort events because of various factors such as political reasons or for monetary benefit. There is also a higher tendency for headlines stories with racial dimensions as it usually creates much more commotion within the community demanding justice. An example from our own country would be the infamous ‘curry incident’ whereby the news reported that a new family from China demanded their Indian neighbors to stop cooking curry as they could not stand the smell of it. The report only state that the new family from China had to resort to involving the Mediation centre to demand that their Singaporean Indian neighbors not to cook curry when they are home, however the media didn’t report that the mediation was voluntary and that decision was agreed on between both parties and not imposed by the mediator. It is only made known when Minister for Law K Shanmugam came forward to clarify the issue. The report created a huge outrage from the local community with many Singaporeans coming out to declare their support by initiating a “Cook A Pot of Curry!” event on Facebook. This report also put the family from China in a negative light and further worsen the situation of Xenophobia in Singapore.

There is no denying that the media is to blame largely for promoting racism, there are also other contributing factors that further instill and sustain racism in the societies. One factor that was suggested that causes racism is our perceptual illusion. We tend to categorize things, and it is a form of stereotyping when we group things together. For example when 100 oranges are placed in front of you, you know there will definitely be some variation in the hues of the colors but you won’t notice it in a significant way as you will subconsciously group all the hues into the same category: ‘orange’. When a new color is introduced, a red apple for this example, that color is uncategorized under ‘orange’ therefore we notice the difference. These illusions lead to have the false impression that other races are different when compared with ourselves. Last but not least, I would like to share my opinion and express that racism is a personal thing whereby it depends on our perception of others. We have a choice to learn more and have a clearer understanding about a certain ethnic group instead of believing everything that the media report states them to be. It is essential to be aware of the threat that the negative media holds and everyone can do their part to contribute towards a more harmonious society.

Word Count: 839


Shanmugam clarifies “curry case”

Is Racism Due To Perceptual Illusions?



Islamophobia is a prominent example of moral panic. It is the dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, to the fear and dislike of all Muslims (Quraishi, 2005). There has been a significant growth in Islamophobia due to the increase of media reports portraying Muslims and Arabs in negative light after the September 11th attack.

A cartoonist’s view on Islamphobia in the modern society

Islamophobia has always been problematic in the lives of many Muslims. Through the media ,its toxic nature has also spread to the public domain as well . It is quite evident that the Western media has and continues to negatively portray Muslims and Arabs in both the news media and film. According to El-Farra (1996), many newspapers make liberal use of terms such as fanatics and extremists, in addition to the term ‘terrorists’ to describe individuals from the Middle East. In 1995 when the Oklahoma City bombings occurred, many early reports also suggested it was the work of Muslim terrorists, thereby reinforcing the notion of Muslims as anti-American criminals. In addition to the explicit discriminatory attitudes being expressed freely about Muslims in the news media, there has been much concern regarding a similar phenomenon in film. Shaheen (2003) has extensively studied stereotypes pertaining to Arabs in film. He describes how many of the films depicts, “Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, oil-rich dimwits, and abusers of women” (p. 172).

Examples of Anti-Muslims cartoons.

After the September 11th attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi Arabian origin and all were of Muslim faith, Arabs and Muslims was subjected to increased scrutiny and racial profiling at airports. Many of the Muslims and Arabs have also complained of being detained without explanation and was made to undergo hours of questioning and even arrest without cause.

Immigration authorities from the US also initiated a program and gathered around 83,000 young men from Muslim countries and subject them to a series of questioning, and collection of their fingerprint, photographs. More than 14,000 of the men were deported and forced to leave their families as most of them were charged for minor immigration violations.

Media was used to further reinforce the islam moral panic issue in the case when Fox News radio host Mike Gallagher suggested that airports have a dedicated “Muslims Only” line in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, stating “It’s time to have a Muslims check-point line in America’s airports and have Muslims be scrutinized. You better believe it, it’s time.”

In summary, the media should provide an un-bias view when reporting. The Agenda Setting Theory and Media Representation Theory has been greatly abused especially in regards to Islam and Muslims. They are deprived of their basic rights and this affects lives of those innocent people when their image has been tarnished unjustly.

Word count: 460


Stoking racism after 9/11

The Silenced Victims of 9/11:Part I

Anti-Islam Cartoons

Distortion and Amplification of reports by the media can lead to moral panic

Racism when reinforced by the negative media can cause moral panic in people. Moral panic is being defined by Stanley Cohen (1987), as a sporadic episode that occurs and subjects the society to bouts of moral panic, or in other terms, worry about the values and principles that society upholds which may be in jeopardy. In simpler words, it occurs when a certain individual or groups of people emerge to be considered as a threat to society’s values and interests.

Moral panic is induced when media highlights the ethnic group or race of the individuals involved in the story and distorts the facts.When the public wants to know what really happened, one tend to look primarily at the local media and the articles that were written shortly after the incident. Due to lack of time, these articles often failed to provide an incomplete story for the audiences and oftenly leave out important facts. An example would be the  Trayvon Martin case. The media reported that George Zimmerman, a white man and member of the neighborhood-watch, called 911 and shot an unarmed black man shortly afterwards without any valid reason, and was released after he claimed it was in the name of self-defence. Racial dimension was created when the broadcasting media mistakenly identified the shooter as white when George Zimmerman is actually of mixed Hispanic descent. The circulated photos of Zimmerman online has also been edited extensively by the various media groups and on all of them he is supposed to look a little whiter, to give the create and reinforce the impression that the attacker is a white man. The public was further mislead when the later media chose to miss out the fact that there was a scuffle and wrote that “The teenager was walking home from a convenience store, where he bought iced tea and Skittles, when he was shot once in the chest.”  The false media again reinforced the image of black people as victims and the typical white man as the attacker. This is also linked back to the Agenda Setting Theory as the powerful media is used to filter information and distort truth, thus the public tend to perceived certain issues as more important than the other issues because media concentrate only on the few subjects they want you to see, in this case, a white man shooting a black man.

Compares the contrast and colours of photo that was being circulated online.

Compares the contrast and colours of photo that was being circulated online.

Justice for Trayvon placards are carried by protesters during a march

The above example has demonstrated how powerful the media can be in framing situations and suggesting them to be racially linked which will results in triggering a series of tragic events involving the community who are mislead by the distorted reports and in reality know nothing of the whole story.

Word Count: 462


Cohen, Stanley (1972): Folk Devils and Moral Panics London: MacGibbon and Kee

USA: The Story Behind a “Racist Murder”

Media’s normalization of racism

Racism is being exercised constantly by mass media which might influence the audience’s way of stereotyping groups and also give them the impression that racism is common and normalized. In this post, we look the examples of racism media that portrays a specific group in a negative light and how it can result in creating anxiety against a specific group of people.

Research in UK shows that leading stories and editorials of tabloids, such as The Sun and The Daily Mail in the UK, have contributed in generating resentment against those non-European immigrants with issues like unemployment, lack of housing, crime, drugs, and even terrorism (Teun A., 1995).

Movies and television programs which are more popular with the younger generation also contain racist context. Below are some extracts from television programs or movies that contain racist content.

A compilation of TV racist moment on american television.

“The Birth of a Nation”(1915) has been well known to be truly a product of its time of racial injustice, right down to the use of white actors donning black-face makeup to portraying black characters as buffoons whose only goals in life are to try and sleep with white ladies.

Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom” (1984) portray Hindus as evil, human-sacrificing psychos.

Word count: 136


Teun A. van Dijk, (1995) The Mass Media Today. Discourses of domination or diversity? Javnost/The Public (Ljubljana), 2(2), 1995, 27-45.

The 50 Most Racist Movies

Media effect on people – Stereotype

One of the most common causes of racism is stereotypes. Through all the sources of mass media such as television, radio, the internet, music, book and other like. The potential for stereotypes to build are of a definite possibility when a person, especially one that is very young, is exposed to stereotypes of a specific group for the first time, then that person will assume all are that way. Likewise, when a source is constantly displaying negative things about a particular race, then that will affect the overall opinions as well. This is also inline with the media representation theory which state that media tend to only project one version of reality, not reality itself and how a particular group of people or person identities are being presented to the audience.

An example of typical stereotypes in the America: Asian Americans Stereotypes

Very often, the media depicts Asians Americans college students as academic overachiever, nerdy individuals with poor social and communication skills. Studies suggest that this perception affect their interactions with peers as non-Asian college students are least likely to initiate friendship with Asian students during initial encounters(Zhang, Q., 2010). Therefore Asian Americans are more likely to be neglected by the majority. Asian Americans are also typically portrayed as hardworking, technologically savvy, diligent and law-abiding. Examples of this stereotype can be seen in the characters portrayed by George Huang in Law & Order: SVUCristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, and Archie Kao in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

The image of Asian Americans as a role model make other racial groups look inferior. As a result, Asian Americans might be more prone to  social problems such as discrimination, racial harassment and hate crime than other ethnic groups. This could also have psychological, emotional, and social impact on them, such as studying harder and longer, foregoing social life, bearing loneliness and isolation, and experiencing depression and stress.

Photograph showing a guy with an oriental mask(depicting Asians), alone in a dark room, doing double the work on the laptops.

The Asian American stereotypes example demonstrated the effect the media has  on influencing a person’s mind and their perceptions of the different groups of people.

Word count: 362


Stereotypical thinking causes racist results

Zhang, Q. (2010). Asian Americans beyond the model minority stereotype: The nerdy and the left out. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 3, 20-37.


A little racist humour to start the ball rolling.

Racism in the early 20th century was largely between the blacks and whites in America, but today it has evolved and expanded among many different cultures in countries throughout the world.

Racism is being defined as the prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief. It is a common phenomenal happening around the globe. The problems that arises from racism can be catastrophic. Take Rwanda Genocide for example, more that 800,000 were killed as a result of severe racial dispute.

In the 21st century, mass media plays a significant role in keeping people well informed. Through various mediums of media, be it newspaper, radio, television, magazines or internet, we are able to communicate with huge number of people. There is no doubt to the impact that mass media has on the society. It can change opinions because people are constantly exposed to numerous kind of mass media in their daily life and this gives it a lot of influence over the population. This influence can either be constructively used by educating the people positively or it can be used destructively by misleading the innocent people, causing negative impacts.

Racism is a daily occurrence. In the upcoming posts, we shall look deeper into of the media in racism; examine the examples of racism media, how audience are affected by the media they consumed, how the role of  negative media can contribute to creating stereotyping, which can contribute to social disharmony and generate moral panic in the society.

Word Count: 212


Rwanda: How the genocide happened