After watching “White like Me” featuring advocate Tim Wise, I gained new perspectives about race in America, especially how the media affects its portrayal. I wanted to discuss a few highlights of the film because the best way to lessen, and hopefully end racism, is to educate others on what words and actions can be harmful to others.
Racism goes beyond words and stereotypical assumptions. Some Americans have the tendency to ignore factors such as institutionalized racism and housing discrimination and thus ignore that there is inequality in our country. In the film, there are clips of white men and women claiming that affirmative action is reverse racism and is disadvantaging them. However, what many with this argument disregard is the fact that their minority counterparts haven’t always started at the same social or economic status that they have had because of their race. Diversity within institutions is important for creating balanced learning places.
A second topic that Wise brings up is the media’s part in creating a criminal portrayal towards African Americans. They are incarcerated more than any other marginalized group in the United States and there is reason to believe racism has played a role in this fact. From what we’ve learned in class, the media can tend to downplay the severity of a crime in a black neighborhood, while putting more attention on a crime in a white neighborhood. In addition, the media plays more footage of black citizens involved in criminal acts than any other race. This creates stereotypes and covert racism towards minorities in our society. For example, someone walking down the same street as some of color may move to the opposite side for fear of their safety.
Interestingly, Wise also brought attention to groups of people in the states who want to “go back to the way America used to be,” meaning a time of low taxes and limited government. In the film, they were referring to the year of 1957, when the privilege that whites had in America was reminded for them. Another way of putting that time is “pre-civil rights.” This ties into the fact that many Americans believe that since we are past the civil rights movement and that President Obama was elected, we are completely past racism. This is very much false and continues to ignore inequality. In the film, the groups of people who want to go back to that time are suggested to want to go back to a time when there was less of a fight for equality. With that being said, I hope that our nation continues to educate others on injustices in our society.