REPRESENTATION MATTERS: BLACK LIVES MATTER AND THE IMPORTANCE OF CROWD FUNDING SITES
Television in general has always served as a slanted medium when discussing communities of color, often depicting them as violent, or as slightly older aggressive thugs in comparison to their saintly white “counterparts.” Throughout time, Hollywood and other media outlets haven’t taken the best route in portraying characters of color. We are seeing certain microaggressions being occurred when we see young men of color being depicted as terrorists, thugs, or otherwise. Whether these characters be Black, Latino, Asian or otherwise Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand that representation matters. I need to repeat that again- representation matters. The way that people are represented has an underlying effect as to how these people are portrayed-not only on television screens- but in real time, especially in areas where people who live in a certain area [and historically people from that area never move] aren’t in constant communication with people whom they’ve never met before.
Certain themes that are being represented show a direct narrative that doesn’t necessarily correlate to how those people wish to be seen. When you add the cultural layer on, which should bring people together, but typically adds more friction with people who don’t wish to change; there are a monopoly of problems that need to be identified, solved, and healed.
While there has been representation in Hollywood [over time] it still hasn’t allotted for enough time to allows for artists to explore and experiment their different points of view, and while this may seem sufficient there has been a dominant narrative that surfaces. That dominant does not showcase the diverse nation that America is, and leaves people who belong to other groups feel like they can’t align with certain programming that they would like to. Through this creative genre, there has been an erasure of accurate representation of African Americans and other actors of color. The same Black, Latino, Asian actors get the movie roles. For example, 1930’s actress Anna May Wong was an actress who roles were often fulfilled by stereotypes yet she was someone who didn’t wish to fulfill them.
And that is pathetic, because they do not represent how their culture is, and that burden shouldn’t be placed on them. The dominant group allows which images will be seen, and that isn’t reflective of how people want to be seen. With that erasure comes a lot of ideals that haven’t been spoken about, and with that lack of conversation being produced, it’s an uphill battle for any progress to begin. Without progress, it’s difficult to understand how an ideal future would look like. Ideally, that future would include representation, a ban to all social injustices, and whatever necessary thing that is needed to fill that void.
It is without a doubt that African Americans and people of color have a difficult time getting roles that aren’t the sarcastic best friend, the know it all girlfriend who loves to roll her neck as she explains herself (with an attitude) to her friends or the painfully awkward woman who is often afraid to show how she- as a woman of color can be a part of the dominant culture. Actresses such as Viola Davis, Gabourey Sidibe, and KeKe Palmer are the Black Small Screen Hollywood Darlings while other actresses such as Tessa Thompson, Jurnee Smollet, and Amber Riley are often reduced to roles that do not show the promise they’ve been acclaimed to bring. It’s interesting that when it comes to “minority” actors, they use the same actors over and over. And usually when those actors become type casted, we can only see one side of the African American experience. With newer content such as How To Get Away With Murder, I understand that tackling issues such as race might be daunting to communities that have the privilege of ignoring it, but until it hasn’t been questioned, it will be allowed to thrive.
The African American experience is alive in will in all of the 106 Historical Black Colleges or Universities, The Divine Nine Organizations, and other illustrious organizations that have allowed black academics and social service to thrive. I feel that there is an attack on identity in this country. It is impossible to have views without seeming racist, radical, or unpopular. I think that supremacy resonates with patriarchy, and although the two are similar, many people feel that that they are not interchangeable. As a student of color in a predominantly white university, I always come to school to not only enlighten, but to give views on the experience that other students do not have to understand. The war on cultural propaganda has adversely affected African Americans and communities of color by having them portrayed as drug dealers, people who are dependent on governmental assistance, and people who are unable to speak properly. These depictions are seen as the blueprint on how to communicate with people of color, with certain words being emphasized when communicating with black and brown people making it seem that those are the only words that we respond to. As I mentioned in my first paragraph, representation matters. It seems as though members who belong to other cultural communities have allowed other groups- who they largely have no contact with to write their narratives.
Black Lives Matter is an initiative that started by four women by the name of Patrisse Collors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi. The group was started after George Zimmerman was acquittal on all charges of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old teenager. This movement is prevalent in our society, and in a global village sense as well. During the onset of the course, we had a task where we had to complie certain images/gifs tht we enjoyed. I gathered those images from Tumblr, because that is a platform that is unattacked by people who gather together in a digital sense. All types of images are sent through that site, and I strongly believe that Tumblr is a big reason why that movement/narrative has stood strong. There are people who want to be a part of certain movements, but they may feel that their daily lives doesn’t allow them to partake in certain actions.
Last summer, protestors from all over the country met and gathered and they closed down certain bridges. I helped close down the Brooklyn Bride, and I had never seen such an outpouring of support. Although the movement has died down (I believe due to the weather) it has lived in other platforms. Sadly, with the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Rahmarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, and more recently Freddie Gray, it seems like the bodies of young black men are currently being used as vessels for police vessels. Although the protests have continued, some may feel like protesting isn’t enough. I feel that economic boycotting is a key to bring awareness to certain causes, but if enough people aren’t participating, it may not be enough. When people feel that their efforts aren’t enough, a lot of people may want to give up. Luckily, there are people who will choose to find other creative ways to incite reason enough to keep going.
Another assignment that we had in this class that spoke to me was the street art assignment. I saw many positive images from neighborhoods that I didn’t necessarly think would have them there. I think that artistic intent may be a reason why that was done. If certain people who aren’t exposed to certain atrocities, they may believe that it doesn’t exist. Perception is reality for a lot of people, and if their reality is void of people that don’t take up space in their world, then they may believe that it doesn’t happen. I choose to believe that ignorance isn’t bliss all of the time.
Another aspect of representation, and black lives mattering that I am proud of is GoFundMe. GoFundMe is a crowdfunding website that allows people to donate money to different causes that they feel an attachment to. This fundraising technique has been crucial to the movement. It has allowed people who may not have a close connection (as far as distance is concerned) to make sure that someone has the support they need. Most recently, The mother of Tamir Rice hset up an account. She didn’t want to live across the street from where her son was gunned down and was now homeless as a result. When social media websites got wind of what was going on, they contributed money so that she could find a new living space. Another aspect is a complany called “HelpOrHush” and they take donations from peoplee and they purchase supplies for people who are in the same area. They have committed to live in the areas where the protests are One current reason is crowdfunding. The emergence of GoFundMe as a platform to gather funds to those in needs has been crucial to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Of the processes have included dehumanizing Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and making their entire supporters look like uninformed vigilantes who have their own motive. Why is it that FOX News and other conservative outlets practically defended Ethan Couch, a teenager who was involved in a multi vehicular homicide that resulted in the deaths of four people, Recently conservative commentator Bill O’ Reilly gave a stirring speech in which he said that Eric Garner did not deserve what happened to him.
Although he is conservative public figure, I do not think that his rare outpour of emotion is enough to turn the tide in what seems like a never-ending saga of black and brown people being dehumanized by their detractors, even in death.