Every day I have been staring at my television watching updates on the crisis that has swept through our nation: COVID-19. And, every single day, the news cycle is exactly the same: the rising numbers of death, the rising numbers of cases, the rising number of ventilators needed. And, all of which, we can agree is absolutely horrible and I could not imagine being in a position where I am being ripped away from my family because I am on the front lines or because I have tested positive for COVID-19.
But all of this media coverage got me thinking about something else…
I started thinking about life and media coverage before COVID-19. And it made me realize that we have not been talking about the 2.3 million individuals who are mass incarcerated or over 50 thousand individuals who are being held in immigration detention centers.
Over these past few months, the presence of COVID-19 has been dominating the media, now don't get me wrong, I am not saying, in any way, that it is not an important issue, but what I am saying that it is not the only important issue.
Have you ever taken the time to think about the power that mass media has over our lives, minds, and ways of being? Quite frankly, I am not sure that we do. Whatever the media deems as an important or pressing issue of the time, that is the issue that takes over our thoughts. The images and videos are constantly drilled in our minds. The media controls our conversations and influences our values.
Think about this. When you turn on the nightly news (pre-COVID-19), what would you see? Crimes and arrests. You would see the crimes that people of color have committed and how the police are looking for them. And what does that constant drilling do? It creates perceptions and opinions that shape the way that we live our lives. It instills an overbearing fear of black men and stereotypes them as thugs, gang leaders, and "super-predators", as Hilary Clinton used to call them. Instilling a view that they lack conscience or empathy. What do people do when they hear established people make these claims? They soak in every word and run with it.
Have you ever thought about Donald Trump when he called Mexicans "criminals and rapists" who can not be trusted in our country? When these words are spoken, they can not be taken back, and people find a way to twist them into something that fits their cognitive pattern of internal thoughts and values.
Now let me tie this back to COVID-19. See, we are letting the over-coverage of this virus take-over our lives and way of being. We are letting all of the other social issues be forgotten or swept under the rug. And that is not fair to those who are affected by it. For example, it has been 3 months since Ahmaud Arbery was murdered for simply jogging in his own neighborhood, yet this is the first time many of us are hearing about it and it is not our fault in any way, shape, or from.
Why is this the first time we are hearing of this, you may ask? It's because of the power of the freaking media. Again, it dictates what we deem as important and it shields and distracts us from other just as important issues by putting them in the shadows. The media doesn't inform us if it is not a pressing issue of the time, and that is not fair to us. The media's influence puts us in a bubble and it is our job to learn to break through it by using our minds to evoke creativity and curiosity. We need to keep posting about issues that are important to us and use our voices to speak for those who can't and spread our new-found knowledge with others.