We’re Individuals, Not Types –BAME Misinterpretation in Media

Members of the BAME group often suffer injustice in the media due to distorted patterns of portrayal. Although the media are beginning to advocate equality, we can’t stray away from the fact that a ‘one size fits all’ attitude is loosely thrown around and placed upon our youth. The local, black offender becomes the face of crime and hostility, fuelling the hyped portrayal of black violence in the media. With black excellence slowly receiving the appreciation it deserves, a long road lies ahead in order for the media to accurately represent our BAME group. We’re Individuals, Not Types.

Image: Top Boy - Credit: Chris Harris
"With many young men lacking the relevant guidance, it is crucial that we represent strong-minded individuals, pursuing careers that are not burdened by crime".

Shows such as ‘Top Boy’ and ‘Power’ have gained popularity due to their gripping narratives based around gang life and drug wars. Although both shows have a multi-ethnic cast, a rather large stigma is formed around the crime within black communities. The shows tend to create a hyped perspective around gang crime, especially in those areas that suffer deprivation from both funds and education. However, ‘Top Boy’ takes us on a compelling journey documenting the struggles of young adults, forced into crime after being neglected by the system.

Many of us don’t realise that although these shows are for our entertainment, they can sometimes mirror the true reality of societies around us. Even though the show attempts to convey an accurate idea of a crime-riddled life, it influences the negative stigma around black males ‘choosing’ a life of crime. The ‘one size fits all’ statement is then branded onto our youth, simply from a disconnect with reality and the media. With the media constantly focusing on the links between BAME individuals and criminality, it strays away from some of the bigger issues, not to mention the demoralizing effect this has on our youth.

Likewise, people with less real-world encounters with black people often deem this representation to be a reality.

The young, black male is often branded by the counterfeit representation he receives by the media. The negative portrayal can be discouraging. It is important to remember that a biased representation only refers to a fraction of the community. With many young men lacking the relevant guidance, it is crucial that we represent strong-minded individuals, pursuing careers that are not burdened by crime, and actively reflecting the reality of today. It is clear that streaming platforms are beginning to paint black men in a brighter light, to augment the excellence that is often shadowed.

Although the balance between empowerment and injustice within the media is not yet equal, we are seeing a promising stride towards it.

We understand that police brutality continues to cause disruption within BAME communities. It is worth questioning whether the misinterpretation we receive from the media is fuelling a lack of understanding. While this shouldn’t be used as a justification, it’s no secret that police aggression may be influenced by the constant criminalisation of black people.

Image: Bill Russell (Getty images)

The media often glamorises black people in relation to their sport and musically engrossed achievements. While this is a good way to congratulate the skills and creativity within the community, it seems as if we are limited to these choices. Basketball player, ‘Bill Russell’ was heavily congratulated for being the first black coach in the NBA, back in 1966. Now, 53 years on, it seems as if we are still only being recognised for our sporting achievements, rather than our black entrepreneurs, doctors and professors.

With many young individuals looking to the media for a sense of purpose, they may feel bound to pursue biased roles. We understand that black people face a bigger disadvantage and often face unjust circumstances in relation to achievement, but this shouldn’t hinder the idea that we are just as able.

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