Attending a university in upstate New York and being surrounded by people who have only seen minority individuals on “Love and Hip Hop” or the news for committing crimes emphasizes the negative way minorities are portrayed in the media.
The love triangles, loudmouth backstabbing best friends and strippers transformed into rappers are all harmful representations of the minority community. At colleges like Geneseo, where many of the students and community members do not have prior experiences with minorities, portrayals on shows like these can be dangerous. They create notions that cannot be undone until an individual has an actual encounter with a minority. TV portrayals not only affect how people perceive minorities, but also how people interact with them.
Shows typically represent women verbally attacking and degrading one another over men and sexualize them in the outfits they wear. This creates an impression that minorities solely care about fighting and earning money.
TV stereotypes minorities, causing others who don’t interact with minorities to be misinformed. This will sometimes cause individuals to either be fearful or assume minorities will act a certain way based on the pretenses to which they have been exposed.
TV takes the stigmas many people already have regarding minorities and brings them to life, showing them to millions of viewers daily. These shows influence our understanding, actions and decisions in ways we do not realize. They subconsciously tell us who we can trust, who is more likely to cause us harm or even who is more likely to succeed in life.
The impact of TV stereotypes is not only on a student-to-student level, but also on a faculty-to-student level. Geneseo’s campus has approximatley 5,000 students, and only around 20 percent are minorities, according to the Geneseo website. With only one-fifth of the campus consisting of minorities, every move a minority makes is watched and judged.
Based on this ratio, there is a high chance that a minority student is the only one in their classes. When this happens, how the student acts either confirms or contradicts the preconceived notions other individuals have about minorities.
Many minorities will try and emulate the people they see on shows and this only creates more confusion. It seems that any way a minority acts will either affirm or deny the way TV has portrayed them; this doesn’t acknowledge that all individuals are different and that each group of people is made up of unique individuals.
TV uses stereotypes of certain minority groups as entertainment by fabricating and dramatizing them for profit, often without considering the bigger picture. It creates a strong bias in TV viewers’ minds of what to expect when they interact with minorities, especially if they haven’t had these interactions before. As a result, this creates tension and a multitude of misunderstandings between groups of people in ways that could easily be avoided with proper representation of different racial groups.