Paul R. Lehman, Race and the Media

January 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Race in America | 1 Comment
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Whenever the subject of race occurs in society by persons of note, the media seems to jump on it like a group of sharks during a feeding frenzy. Expert after expert is asked to discuss his or her take on the subject and the circumstance in which the subject happened. Networks create programs to discuss the subject and the persons implicated in the matter in an effort to gain a better understanding of race and why it came to the attention of the public. This pattern has repeated itself for the past fifty or more years. Ironically, after all the network programs, televised town hall meetings, interviews, and investigative reports, nothing concrete happens to dispel the myth and illusion of race. Why? Could it be because of society’s ignorance, or the appeal for public attention or fear that the truth will destroy the pay off received from those who wish to continue the game?

                With all the current information available regarding the sameness of all human beings, one would think that ignorance of all people belonging to the same family of human would be next to impossible. One scientist made the comment that humans are more alike than penguins. Sure, superficial differences occur in and among humans. These differences exist even in families where children have the same parents. So why does the media ignore the fact that reasons, other than race, come into play go totally unnoticed by them? Reasons of bias, bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination can and should be addressed anytime the subject of race causes attention. Evidently, the media thinks that the important area of concern is race, therefore, the legitimate reasons go unmentioned or reduced to insignificant matter. Why have they not ventured beyond race?

                If ignorance is not the cause of the media’s refusal to look beyond race in their reports then maybe the reason is that fact that like sex, race will bring in the viewers and listeners. The subject of race is like the golden egg laid by the goose. Because of its supposed value to the public, it cannot be ignored. The more the subject is aggrandized by the media, the more attention it draws. History shows us that any number of people have gained notoriety from a chance meeting with the media where their bias opinions were expressed and thereby promoted. We know that the word race unites and separates simultaneously, so what better way to garner viewers and listeners than by calling attention to race? Do the media realize that because of their lack of forethought and acknowledgement of the myth and illusion of race, they are the primary supporters, and promoters of racism and social disunity? Have they not come to grips with the fact that race has no genetic basis; that it is a social creation?

                One reason for the media’s attraction to race might be the pay off received from the attention of the viewers and listeners and the decision to ignore the fact. By ignoring the facts of race the game of myth and illusion can continue. If rational thinking people were given the opportunity to move beyond the ignorance and stereotype of race, progress might be possible in bringing about some element of social unity and togetherness rather than separation, bias, bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination. The media has an obligation to keep the public informed, but it has failed miserably in helping society move beyond race because of its ignorance, fear or arrogance.

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  1. Dr. Lehman’s views always are perceptive. His thinking rises above the superficial. He deserves a wider audience for his observations.


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