Racial Bias in Media: The Case of Hurricane Matthew

by | Oct 11, 2016 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

As many have noted, it took a while for the news media, especially in the USA and Europe, to note the devastation of the recent Hurricane in the Caribbean, and especially its effect in Haiti. Conscious and unconscious bias are at work. Vincentians need to see this and speak to it.

In a rather lengthy analysis, Samuel R. Sommers, Evan P. Apfelbaum, Kristin N. Dukes, Negin Toosi, and Elsie J. Wang write,

We would therefore suggest that consciousness-raising is likely the most promising tool with which to address racial bias in the media. As Greenwald and Banaji (1995) explain, when individuals motivated to be fair-minded are made aware of a potential source of bias, they are often able to avoid discrimination; making conscious the category associations that typically reside outside of awareness is one way to render those associations less influential. Of course, such a strategy is only effective to the extent that the individuals in question are motivated to avoid bias. We assume that—with the notable exception of the authors of the fabricated first-person e-mails described above—the vast majority of journalists covering Hurricane Katrina fall into this category. If this is not the case, then efforts to ameliorate racial bias in media coverage would require an entirely different course of action.

Members of the Vincentian Family have likewise only been moderately attentive to this crisis. Surveying Facebook accounts from members all over the globe reveals scant coverage or mention.

What must we do, now, and in the future to examine our own subtle racism and inattention? Take the time to read and study this entire article.

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