Society is fast moving from social discord to social harmony. Governments and human rights movements are striving to bring people together. The efforts by the stakeholders are premised on the fact that a united society is better placed to overcome its challenges than a divided one. Social harmony is more desirable in cosmopolitan settings. Intermarriages, migrations, and work relations have caused people move from their original homelands to new places. It is the desire of every community to integrate its people. Such actions have proved successful except in a few instances. Despite the progresses made in achieving social integration, racism remains a major barrier to attaining overall integration (Young, 2008). At the new settings, immigrants are faced by social challenges including racism. Whereas racism and otherness remain an emotive issue in the contemporary world, the media plays a crucial role in directing the people to behave in a socially responsible manner. Media has a responsibility of shunning racial fanfare and relaying information that will foster good relations and social harmony.
In the modern times, digital media has altered the mode of communication. The power of the internet allows people to create websites, blogs, and pages. The ease with which digital content can be created and shared has created a huge network of communication. However, racists can use the platforms to spread hate or discrimination. There exists ‘purist groups’ that malign the other members of the society. In the end, the content creates animosity, sometimes degenerating into violence. On account of their race, some members of the society encounter social segregation (O’Barr, 1994). In the present times, digital media has contributed to a number of extremist acts, as its proponents can easily link irrespective of their geographical location.
The media as a social tool is instrumental in propagating ideals that will enhance social harmony (O’Barr, 1994). Specifically, the media should shun racial hatred and promote peaceful co-existence. Radio and television are some of the commonest media outlets in the world today. The media transmits videos, and broadcasts sound clips that have the capacity to turn one race against the other. In the least, the information relayed casts one race as inferior while the other is portrayed as superior. In addition, some races are shown as being backward, uncivilized, or lazy. Such description makes the other races to regard the particular people unfavorably or even shun them. In the end, society develops a certain attitude towards a particular group. The negative attitude developed eventually breeds hate, despise, or dislike to the mentioned group. In the end, a group is hated, not because it is at fault, but merely because it belongs to a particular race or ethnicity. Vernacular radio stations are common in propagating hate.
The print media is one of the oldest in the industry. To date, it is still a favorite among many people. Unlike the other media such as television and radio, print media is permanent. Upon the occurrence of an event, print media records such incidents in newspapers and magazines. In the unfortunate event that the print media writes about racial issues, such records will remain for long. Future generations are able to access the same news. It becomes difficult for an event to be forgotten as the past entries can be easily accessed. How print media portrays a certain race determines how future generations will perceive it (Jervis, 1999). Because of the portrayal, some people develop prejudices to such races and tend to avoid them. Over time, the prejudice developed grows into hate or discrimination of some kind. For instance, when Haiti a violent earthquake hit Haiti, newspapers were awash with scary images of destroyed homes and hungry children. People are disturbed psychologically by those images. Some are likely to develop a bad attitude to Haitians, and may shun them in social gatherings.
Negativity arising from films has contributed to racism in the world (O’Barr, 1994). Movie and filmmakers are notorious for creating films and documentaries that illustrate the lives of specific people. In other cases, such films represent certain races as lowly. For instance, the movie Kony shot in 2012 highlights the political instability in Africa. While it is agreeable that some African countries have various governance issues, it is not proper for such to be represented vainly. The movie uses a lot of exaggeration that paints the African continent as struggling. To a casual observer, such images may appear as a fair representation of the state of affairs. Based on the negativity in the documentary, one is led to believe that the situation is entirely volatile. In addition, key politicians contribute to negativity by uttering racial slurs. People are swayed by what they see or perceive. A person growing up will be led to believe that Africans are backward and undemocratic. A firm believer in the institution of democracy will shun any African based on the perception created in the movies.
However, the media is not entirely biased in its reporting. Some media outlets have been vocal in preaching social harmony. Using the various platforms available, these media outlets encourage members in the society to be tolerant and accommodating to one another. In this way, different races are able to coexist, brought together by shared interests. Emancipated people no longer judge others by the color of their skin. Rather, they are concerned with the input of each member. It is through enlightening the society about the benefits of peaceful coexistence that they are able to appreciate one another and shun racism (Jervis, 1999)
Race is basically an ideological construction. The notion of ideology refers to the manner in which different people perceive others in the society. The attitude of the community towards certain people influences how the society regards such people. A society that views a section of the community to be lazy, sexually active, backward, or inferior, because of their racial background, promotes racism. On a similar note, colonialism was used to promote racism based on one race being superior to the other. Since the colonial times, race has been used as a major divisive factor in society. Colonialism begot slavery that enhanced racism. In the modern times, the media has been instrumental in propagating racism. Through negative portrayal, imbalanced coverage, and general prejudice, the media has managed to cast a section of the society as evil, while uplifting another section. Overly, the effects of racism have affected economic development and social integration. It is upon the community as a whole to shun divisive practices and ideologies that cause animosity. In addition, it should be the ambition of everyone to foster good relations with their neighbors, by embracing tolerance and understanding.
Jervis, J. (1999). Transgressing the Modern: Explorations in the Western Experience of Otherness. London: Blackwell.
O’Barr, W. (1994). Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Young, E. (2008). Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor. New York: New York University Press.