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Racial Justice Challenge

Welcome to Day 4 of the Racial Justice Challenge.
Today, we turn our attention to representations of race and ethnicity in various media, with examples of underlying bias and racist ideas. 

Let's get started.

1. Grab a pen and paper or open a document on your device. Read this news story, and reflect on these questions. (5-10 minutes)

  • What is your first thought when seeing/reading this?
  • Examine that thought. Do you really believe it? How much do you believe it?
  • Where does this thought stem from? Fear, anger, confusion, compassion, pity, etc.?
  • Is this thought racist or antiracist? If racist, how can you combat this type of racist thinking? If antiracist, how can you act on it?

2. Read this version of the same story, and reflect on the following questions.  (5-10 minutes)

  • Why is this version different? 
  • In what ways might news stories shape our perception of an issue?

3. Watch Indigenous People React To Indigenous Representation In Film And TV. (15:23 minutes)



How can we be critical and thoughtful consumers of media? 


NOTE: This challenge took place August 3-7. Comments are now disabled, but please reflect on the question in the board and scroll through participants' responses.

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4. Actions You Can Do Today

  • Choose an action to complete from participants' responses to the media consumption question above.
  • Go back to Day 2 and pick a new action to complete, either from the participant antiracist action board or from this list.
  • Borrow or purchase books like Alma Garcia's Contested Images: Women of Color in Popular Culture and start reading! For those looking to borrow, request these books at your local or university library. For those looking to buy, order from bookstores run by people of color, like these Black-owned bookstores.
  • Read How can TV and movies get representation right? and if you have time, listen to The Media's Reckoning With Racism

5. BONUS Action

This Morgan Freeman meme has been circulating widely on social media.

Image of the actor Morgan Freeman, that says, How do we stop racism, and a quote attributed to Freeman that says, "Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man & I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man." There's a small icon from The Free Thought Project at the bottom of the image.

Consider ways this meme is problematic. We provide a few ideas further down the page, but first consider your own responses to the meme.

NOTE: This challenge took place August 3-7. Comments are now disabled, but please reflect on the question in the board and scroll through participants' responses.

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One approach to evaluating this meme is to use the SIFT method for assessing information we encounter online.

  • Stop
    Pause for a moment, and ask yourself, Do I recognize this website or source of information? Do I know the reputation of the site or the creators of the information I’ve found? Am I familiar with their reputation for making sensible claims? If any of your answers are no, or if you’re not sure, continue with the rest of SIFT to get a sense of what you’re looking at before you actually dive into it.
  • Investigate the source
    Ask yourself, Where is this information coming from? What kind of credentials, expertise, or insight does the person or organization have who created this information, and what's their agenda? Taking a few minutes to figure out where this post originated will help you better understand its significance and trustworthiness.
  • Find trusted coverage
    Sometimes we may not be able to readily determine the credibility of a source, or we may be unsure if what we’ve found is good information. Thus, we can look for better coverage than the original source we came across. One approach is to look around and see if we can corroborate a claim in other reliable sources by simply searching in Google. 
  • Trace claims to their original context
    Tracing a claim, quote, image, or video back to its original source can sometimes reveal that there is more to it than we first thought, and can help us share a more complete, accurate picture of the issue we’re exploring.

Using this method, we find that the quote from this meme is from a 60 Minutes conversation in 2005 that Freeman discusses several years later. Freeman has spoken about certain policies that are racist, has discussed the death of Freddie Gray and the "terrorism we suffer from the police," and has recently offered to amplify the voices of people who have experienced racism (see some of his recent posts about Black lives here). Thus, the meme is misleading as a single story. This illustrates how context matters - there is more to Freeman's position on discussing racism than the one quotation in the meme suggests.

Further questions to consider: Were you able to identify Ted Nugent's agenda (who shared the meme), and/or the agenda of the Free Thought Project (whose website is listed at the bottom of the image)? Note: An agenda doesn't mean the information is untrue or incorrect, but may mean that it's incomplete. In what ways might we share a more nuanced post on social media that doesn't oversimplify a complex issue like how to address racism?

You have completed Day 4 of the Racial Justice Challenge! Join us tomorrow as we finish strong with an antiracist action plan for the rest of 2020.

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