Student panel discusses minority misrepresentation in media

The Voices You Don’t Hear forum offered student perspectives on the misrepresentation of marginalized communities Tuesday night.

Voices You Don’t Hear, a Q&A-style event that discusses media portrayals of marginalized racial, sexual and gender communities, held its fourth semesterly meeting Tuesday in Memorial Union.

The panel included representatives from the Legion of Black Collegians, the Asian American Association, the Association of Latin@ American Students, Oasis, a trans support and advocacy group and Four Directions: Indigenous Peoples & Allies.

Karina Jaimes, a former journalism student and VYDH moderator, began hosting the event when she noticed the ineffectiveness of her cross-cultural journalism class.

“People were really not learning enough,” Jaimes said. “We studied one identity a week and that’s not enough.”

Jaimes said the identities present at the forum offer an education about representation in the media that cannot be gained in a classroom.

“Something like this should be required for students going into media,” Jaimes said. “You are going to be covering human people, not people on PowerPoints.”

ALAS President Gilberto Perez gave his perspective as a member of the Latin-American community.

“My motivation to be here is to give the Latinx perspective,” Perez said. “There might be one person that has never heard it, and this might be their only chance.”

Members of the panel spoke about the problematic representations of their communities in the media.

Espen Mullen, a representative of Oasis, pointed out the lack of transgender representation in media.

“Trans media is very rarely written by trans people,” Mullen said. “It is is very rarely portrayed by trans actors. That is not a story about being trans. It’s a story about what cisgender people think being trans is like.”

AAA President Alice Yu explained how the media removes cultures’ works from their origins, like the 2017 movie Ghost in the Shell, in which Scarlett Johansson, a white woman, plays the traditionally Japanese character Motoko Kusanagi.

“That is just a huge slap to the face,” Yu said. “You finally found one thing that looked like you, that represented you, and that’s taken away.”

Yu referenced a short film produced in response to the misrepresentation that can be found here.

LBC members Terrell Stanley and Taylar Warren offered their perspectives on the media as members of the black community.

Warren said she felt guilty when, as a result of the media’s focus on the male victims of police brutality, she realized she did not know the names of the female victims.

“Sandra Bland, for example, she was in the media for maybe a week,” Warren said. “Afterward, it was over. That’s an issue I find within our movements, within ourselves, and also how the media portrays our movements. Black women are erased.”

Stanley echoed Warren’s mention of media erasure of LGBTQ perspectives in movements.

“It’s a little-known fact that the three women who started the Black Lives Matter movement were three queer women,” Stanley said. “Most black people do not know that.”

Edited by Skyler Rossi | srossi@themaneater.com

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