gal-dem street discussion: mainstream media

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It’s no fun having your genuine emotions passed off as simply the behaviour of another angry black woman; or having your hijab decried as the symbol of oppression; or your partner’s attraction to you viewed solely as a fetish. Unfortunately, as the world’s access to corrupt mainstream journalism and a Westernised entertainment industry continues to grow, the single narrative created by racialised media representations is more powerful than ever. These representations are continually relied upon as a shorthand way to present unquestioned traits of certain characters and figures, which then filter into generalised assumptions and prejudiced comments.

As Matt Damon so kindly told black female film-maker Effie Brown, and every other person of colour, “when we’re talking about diversity you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show”, referring to the hiring of diverse film-makers on his show, Project Greenlight. Damon’s comment reinforces the idea that white media views POC directors, producers and writers as unnecessary to the process of creating media content even when featuring POC protagonists, maintaining the cycle of narrow ethnocentric media portrayals. Cheers Matt.

gal-dem set out through Brick Lane to discuss these reoccurring depictions, promoting the opinions of women of colour alongside our own gal-dem contributors to share the collective ways in which mainstream media has affected how we view ourselves and how we, as a contemporary online magazine, are working to shift the narrative.

As our music editor, Antonia, summed it up, there’s never been a better time to turn all this shit on its head.

Special thanks to:

Mireilla, Keji, Sherida, Sumra, Soniya, Thirza, Sheila, Showi and Joy.

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