The Return Of Segregation In The Media – The Ugly Truth Emerges

September 21, 2006

Ten years ago, if you looked at a TV commercial or a photo in an advertisment that featured pictures of people, the odds were you’d see an ethnically diverse group. You’d see a Caucasion, an African- American, a Hispanic, and Asian all enjoying a product together, oblivious to their cultural and racial differences. Today, advertisers and filmakers, who usually are the first to jump on trends, portray quite a different picture of life in America today…a life for many of self imposed segregation. I recently saw several McDonalds “Seperate but equal” commercials. In one, a group of Black students are hanging out at a “back table” together and supersizing, while in another, a group of Hispanics make an urban safari type trek to hang out at the golden arches. I know that many people today, in real life, prefer to stay within their comfort zone and associate with people only like themselves…but whatever happened to the media promoting unity as it has for the the last 40 years? I wonder if these commercials reinforced self imposed segregationist attitudes that sparked the recent riots among Black and Hispanic students in California?

I’m a Bi-Racial, who has identified himself as an African-American since the hard fought civil rights battles of the ’60s and I see the danger of what’s going on! I’ve always known the effect that TV, films and the media had on me as I was growing up…aspiring to “White” ideals and revering their icons. I developed a Black Pride, but not at the expense of giving up my friends from other races and cultures.

About 30 years ago, my English wife, was the head of George Lucas’ Star Wars merchandising company and did everything she could to keep me away from her boss. She knew I was dying to ask him, “Why were there no Black people in the first Star Wars film? Are there no Black People in the Future?” I felt guilty about not saying anything, then the second movie came out, which included Billy Dee Williams as Landro Calrissian…obviously somebody else was thinking the same thing as I was!

Finally, it’s appalling that the TV show Survivor, is dividing up the contestants into teams according to race this season. It’s important that we all see positive images of ourselves portrayed on the big and small screen living, working together and communicating. Is a common enemy, with nuclear capability, the only thing that can bring us together…or will it be the last thing to blow us apart?

3 Responses to “The Return Of Segregation In The Media – The Ugly Truth Emerges”

  1. Patti Says:

    I am not going to give my opinion, but rather a few facts from my experience.

    For twelve years I was a college professor and administrator. The Blacks and Hispanics hated each other. The most racist group were the Blacks, who even threatened staff and other students. At one point I had to gather them in a classroom and explain that it was not going to fly at the college. I offered a full refund for their enrollment, if they chose to leave I explained that as a white writer for Motown, I was shown in practice by Berry Gordy that only talent mattered. So I told them they would only be judged on their work and talent. I gave them 20 minutes to decide to either leave with the refund or return with a different attitude.

    Three left. The rest returned changed.

    Working at the elementary school level the past two years I have seen an interesting shift. The children didn’t divide too much over race, but the Jews and Muslims separated out and were verbal about their religious identities, whereas the Christians didn’t say much.

    Perhaps integration, while idealistic, isn’t practical on an everyday basis. Perhaps forced integration is as inappropriate as forced segregation. Perhaps it is enough that all people have the same rights to choices, even if one of those choices is to only be with those like them.

  2. John X Says:

    This is just a side note. You had mentioned that there were no black people in Star Wars (Billy Dee Williams appeared later, probably after others had pointed the same thing out to the “powers that were”; does Darth Vader count?).

    Please take note that there was only one woman.

    THAT is a scary future.

  3. Bill Says:

    Most commercials go out of their way to portray Negroes in outrageous situations, such as not smoking crack or being arrested. Oh well,I guess fantasy has a place on tv also.

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