July 14, 2021 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Aaryana Sharma; Edited by Haarika Kalahasti
Inspired by The New York Times’s “Learning Network'' headlines, we decided to investigate whether TV captures the diversity of America and if TV is still “too white”. Growing up in the United States, many immigrants, children of immigrants, and people of color struggle to find themself in mainstream media. While books, movies and shows with people of color do exist, they are often difficult to find on media outlets or are not given the same recognition as media produced by a typical white individual. However, we are beginning to finally see that this trend is changing.
From Nicola Yoon’s “The Sun is Also a Star'' novels, to Mindy Kailing’s “Never Have I Ever”, immigrants and people of color are beginning to recognize parts of themself in mainstream media. Disney launchpad films “Growing Fangs”, “American Eid”, “The Little Prince(ss)”, and “Dinner is Served” featured upcoming directors of color and their authentic stories.
How come we’ve never actually seen ourselves in the media before? We’ve always existed, but the majority of the time, people of color are stereotyped or misrepresented. We’ve begun to notice particular character cliches, such as a person of color acting as a side character to a white lead, in a lesser preferred occupation or lower social status. Even in children’s shows, such as Jessie and Phineas and Ferb , each of the characters fit the stereotypical “role” they were “supposed to play”. For example, Ravi embodied a stereotypical Indian character with a thick accent whose only interest seemed to be academics. Zuri embodied a stereotypical African American character who was known for her sassy attitude. Phineas and Ferb’s Isabella and Baljeet followed similar character stereotypes.
But it’s getting better right? Definitely. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed more diverse representation in media and more creators and artists recognizing the need to showcase authentic narratives. In new media like Never Have I Ever, Sound of Metal, the Kite Runner, Raya and the Last Dragon, The Hate U Give, On My Block, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, authors and creators of color are slowly beginning to rewrite the narrative encompassing a more realistic, multifaceted story. Characters often overcome stereotypical barriers while preserving their cultural traditions and are often seen participating in religious or cultural ceremonies at home, while engaging in school events, or passions, indicating that dual identities can indeed be fostered.
What’s next? We know these narratives are only starting to be more inclusive, but there sure still is a long way to go. One story isn’t going to destroy stereotypes or reverse stigmas about assumed traits. Now that we have begun to tell more authentic stories to a mainstream audience, we need to encourage storytellers and artists to share their personal experiences. Many storytellers hesitate from sharing their experiences due to fear that their stories won’t be understood, or that there is no audience to recognize particular traditions. But, we exist. People of color, immigrants, and members of minority and marginalized communities are ready to be represented in mainstream media. It’s up to us to make media more colorful.