Does Racism In The Media Cause Internalised Racism?

1427 words - 6 pages

Internalised racism is an issue that in an intercultural world we will always face. The University of Western Australia describes internalised racism as self-hatred or disapproval of one’s own racial group for the lack of white characteristics (2014). Our ancestor’s have paved the way for our world to see race as a hierarchy system. Media and advertising was a tool used profoundly to ensure people of the world understood where they fit in to the hierarchy system. Because the hierarchy system seemed so important, fitting into the right social group prompted people to answer the question of whether they were black, white or other? In the 21st century people are not limited to deciding what ...view middle of the document...

Lupita reminds her audience of a time when she too felt unbeautiful, “I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin” (Nyong'o, 2014). The media possesses enormous power, power to cause a person to have negative, racist thoughts towards their own race and then the same power to build up an individual’s confidence in their racial background. Lupita identifies Alek Wek as a savior in her situation; Alek is an international model and like Lupita has skin dark as night (Nyong'o, 2014). Lupita was stunned when someone who looked just like her was being talked about and described as beautiful, as Lupita’s skin colour had always been an issue for her and something she had to overcome. The University of Western Australia gives an example of a bloggers comment on how internalised racism occurs, “you are told in a thousand and one ways that white is right and that you are not- not just from white people, from school and television, but even by people of your own race.” Advertising truly is a ‘magic system’ (Wall, 2008), in Lupita’s case she only had to see one woman who possessed the same features as her to feel “more seen” (Nyong'o, 2014) and more appreciated. This example proves just how much power the media and advertising industry possesses, power to create internalised racism.

Although internalised racism is an issue described as being due to lack of white characteristics the following example shows just how influential the media is, as an advertisement was able to make even white people insecure with their own race. In 1884 an advertisement for Pears Soap appeared throughout Great Britain, the advertisement featured an elephant being bathed with a bar of soap that had seemingly whitened the elephant’s body. The Pears Soap advertisement claimed that it could artificially whiten the elephant’s skin (Amato, 2009). This advertisement had been based on a racial purity controversy at the time. Between January and March in 1884 an American man named Phineaus Taylor Barnum housed a Burmese white elephant in the London zoological garden (Amato, 2009). White elephants had great cultural significance in Burma and Siam (now known as Thailand) and were a spiritual Buddhist symbol. When this elephant was housed in the London zoological gardens all of its original cultural background was disregarded by Europeans and instead created conversation of racial purity when the elephant arrived in London. Europeans questioned how authentic the animal was, this was because it did not meet peoples expectations of the elephants white colour and instead looked as though it was an ordinary elephant that had been rolling in dust (Amato, 2009) This reaction was not unexpected given the thoughts towards race and status at this time nor did the reaction come about coincidentally as Barnum had set out to provoke the existing Anglo- Burmese tension. Although the reaction from European people was not surprising the advertisements...

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