When the news of my travel to the U.S. become public in our family the very first advice I received was to beware from black people while in the U.S. and avoid them on streets.’ According to some people I met here in the U.S. blacks are very violent “who can kill you just for your wallet or your phone”. When one of my friends made this comment above, I asked out of my curiosity how many people she knows firsthand who were attacked or looted by blacks, and she knew none. However, she insisted it is so common in the U.S. that “everybody knows it”.
When I came through the study that most of the news stories in the U.S. featuring black men were about sports or crime, I realized how she got the impression that black people commit more crimes than others do. This is a typical and firsthand example of how stereotyping can effect someone’s perception and poisoned somebody’s mind.
However, this stereotyping is changing. Black Lives Matter movement has forced the U.S. media outlets to look into their coverage of race and adopt a more liberal stance towards it. What I found the mainstream U.S. media has been relatively sympathetic to BLM movement even when the African American youth confronted the police and took law into their hands during the protests in different cities. A major contributing factor to this sympathetic coverage was the pressure of the social media that has been used by the BLM activists widely and intelligently throughout the movement.
The power of the hashtags and citizen journalism forced major news outlets to be more careful while covering race-related issues and dig deeper into the alleged police harassment of the black people. Mainstream media has realized that if it does not pay attention to these issues the social media will make it accountable and may leave it discredited.
This conscious coverage of race-related issues is largely a gift of Black Lives Matter movement. It turned out that the police’s dealing with blacks was always preferential in the U.S. but it did not become a national news until the BLM gained momentum and forced media outlets to investigate the issue more objectively. It can safely be assumed that the U.S. media has realized what was wrong in its coverage of the black communities and their issues and hopefully there will be no going back.
Now the journalists and experts are discussing the ways and proposals to strengthen race-related coverage and making newsrooms ethnically more diverse. This debate and deep dive coverage of the issues being faced by black communities around the U.S. will not only force the officials to sort out their policies but will also help change perspectives of the masses about African American community.
I live in Washington, D.C. which was a black majority city until recently and still have a significant African American community. Here I witness the plight of the color people almost every day. It is no secret that the African Americans are still marginalized in the society, have less educational and economic opportunities and thus are more prone to drugs and crime. This marginalization and preferential treatment might be a reason why African Americans are more religious than rest of the Americans. Religions have always provide comfort and refuge to the marginalized communities.
But this phenomenon is changing and like other religious groups in the U.S. the black faith communities and churches are also losing their membership and authority over public life. The Black Lives Matter movement has made this changing pattern more visible where the Church leadership has a very little role unlike the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s and anti-slavery movement of 19th century. The BLM movement is being led by the black youths who don’t seek guidance from Church leaders, don’t rely on Church communities to disseminate their message and organize their activities. This emergence of a new leadership has left the Black Churches, which have been the traditional providers of the leadership to Black communities for centuries, dwindling and striving to be relevant for their followers.
This less involvement of Church and religious leaders has made BLM more inclusive and popular among masses and the media in the changing religious landscape of the U.S. where religious affiliation is declining every year. But it also poses a serious question to Black communities that towards what their youth will turn, where will they take refuge and from where will they seek guidance in times of disappointment, hopelessness and depression?