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Media and Violence in Racialized Families

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Introduction

Modern racism in Canada is a designation of inferiority assigned to various racial groups and using the attribution to promulgate and justify imbalanced treatment of these racial groups. Racism in Canada takes three major forms: concept of biological inferiority, cultural deficiency and underdevelopment in technology (Fontaine, 2008). There are however three types of racism in Canada: individual racism (direct), subconscious racism (indirect) and lastly systemic racism (institutional). White Canadians direct individual racism towards people of color such as the Aboriginal people, immigrants and the Quebec community because of their race, culture and socio-economic status. Subconscious or indirect racism towards the minority in Canada occurs because of stereotypical assumptions that Canadian mainstream media fuels, fear of the unknown and ignorance. Institutions such as businesses, government agencies and healthcare facilities practice systemic racism by limiting opportunities and rights to minority groups because of race. These institutions are responsible for health care, housing, maintaining public policy, education, commercial and social activities among other frameworks of the Canadian society.

Media contributes to violence among racialized groups in Canada because of the stereotypical assumptions it portrays. The mainstream media uses the names disadvantaged or underprivileged to mean people of color. Media pictures these racialized families as failures in academic institutions, lazy in work environment and prone to crime that goes hand in hand with substance abuse. Racialized families face constant discrimination in form of direct violence or rejection from opportunities in the society because the media constantly portrays them as less civilized, less bright and less human. These portrayals justify the types of oppressions the racists, media and other institutions directs to them. The exclusion from all frameworks of the society leads to socio-economic marginalization, loss of voice and powerlessness (Galabuzi, 2010).

Literature Review

Violence in racialized families in Canada results from poverty, lack of employment and inequality. At the family or domestic level, the use of violence is against children, women and the disabled. At the international or national level, asylum seekers, poor people, African Canadian and Minority ethnic, refugees, Indigenous and migrants face different forms of violence from institutions and states. These institutions use violence against racialized communities to maintain national security, order and peace. Jiwani refers to a murder case in British Columbia in Canada, of Reena Virk a 14-year-old girl from South Asian ethnic background (2006). She further explains how 14-16 year-olds seven girls and a boy beat Reena Virk because of her race. The media covered up the reasons for the murder citing that the crime was a love triangle and that the victim was spreading rumours (Jiwan, 2006).

Research shows that violence and crime in racialized communities occur when there is loss of hope and despair in relation to poverty and racism. Violence, gun and gang-related crime occur in Ontario because of the high population of legal and illegal immigrants, Aboriginal people and African Canadian youths. These minority groups resort to violence because they lack proper resources and opportunities. In a company that has racialized workers, employers give them low paying and insecure jobs that take longer hours. Their education is not important because individuals and institutions already consider them illiterate and inexperienced. People working for low incomes and overtime tend to try easy jobs such as selling drugs on the streets. Poverty also pushes racialized people to violence. The war on drugs slogan usually targets racialized communities because they are the low-level drug peddlers. Police focus on such groups rather than the powerful drug lords who supply the drugs (Galabuzi, 2010).

Re-enforcement and Reproduction of Violence by Mainstream Media

The mainstream media in Canada plays a vital role in communication concepts of racism against people of colour. They help in defining the terms of racism and further localize them within the imagination of the public. In reproduction of Canada’s social knowledge, the media acts as crucial vehicles in underpinning hegemonic interests and clarifications (Jiwani, 2006). This means that the mainstream mass media invoke thought and behavior in Canadians when they frame race and acts of racism as derived from the social life of minority groups. The media defines racism as violent or nonviolent acts that arise from immigration, ignorance and uneducated individuals who reside on the rural areas of Canada. Race implies the differences in culture and biological appearance as shown in films and pictures. Jiwani argues that Canadian mainstream media communicate race or racism by commission or omission (2006). In cases where violence is against racialized groups, the mainstream media reports that these are normal cases and this in turn spurs new cases of violence against people of colour in Canadian institutions (schools, homes or workstations) because of the footage on the crime.

Canadian mainstream media tries to cover up violence against racialized groups by reporting on prostitution, Aboriginality and girl-and-boy crime instead of hate crimes. Jiwani and Young refer to a missing persons’ case in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where the body of a murder victim previously reported as missing resurfaced (2006). This case fueled a heated debate among Aboriginal people and the cover-up by the media focusing on prostitution of the Aboriginal. Such a case will re-enforce violence against Aboriginal women because the offenders will use the media portrayal of prostitutes to carry out violence. Jiwani notes that the media portrays the Aboriginal people as childlike, women as prostitutes and men as criminals who need the white Canadians and the state to push them to development (2009). This means that women and men from racialized groups experience violence in the presence of police officers and other Canadians but because of their stereotypical status as portrayed by the media, an intervention to stop the violence is rare. When such cases occur, the police and other Canadians believe that these racialized groups deserve the violence.

Fontaine reports of a case in Winnipeg Sun, a Canadian newspaper that ran an advertisement for stopping crime using a suggestive photograph portraying police officers frisking two teenage boys from the Aboriginal community (2009). This advertisement ran for several months in the newspaper. The effect of the advertisement and photograph reinforced the stereotype status of the Aboriginal youth as delinquents in mind of Canadian readers. Another example of how mainstream media reproduces violence among racialized groups is the case of Reena Virk, the South Asian girl whose body surfaced after eight days in a river (Jiwani, 2006). She further explains that the media covered up the issue of racism until two years later during the trial of one of Reena Virk’s murderer when the court and media stressed that the victim faced the violence because of her weight and inability to penetrate the culture of her peers (Jiwani, 2006). This means that her physical appearance and lack of normative standards caused the violence. Canadian normative standards implies a thin body, white, athletic (able-bodied) and heterosexual. Racialized groups lack these normative standards and in essence, victims of racialized crime are responsible for their own fates.

Violence against Racialized Women in Canada

Violence against women and girls within racialized families is rampant in Canada because of the stereotype views portrayed by the media, loss of voice and fear of deportation if they are illegal immigrants. Women in Downtown Eastside of Vancouver are from the Aboriginal community faced with adverse poverty and insecurity resulting to prostitution (Jiwani & Young, 2006). These women encounter persistent sexual violence from men of the same community or their spouses but they do not receive any security or protection because the police believe they deserve such crimes because they are sex workers. Cases of homicides among racialized families are common but such stories do not make it to the front-page of newspapers because violence against women of colour is a normal domestic violence within racialized groups. Among immigrants, violence against women and girls is high because they do not have a voice and financial ability to seek protection. Calling the police in Canada during a violent crime committed against a racialized immigrant woman could result to two cases: deportation or lack of response from the police. Women resign to domestic violence from their spouses and people from the same family because they cannot escape relationships that are abusive with their sponsors or benefactors because they will lose their homes, children and right to acquire basic needs. Indigenous men, immigrants and men of colour harass their women who refuse to seek help or protection because many women who do not have the resources to provide basic needs for themselves and their children would receive poor healthcare and social housing. Men abuse racialized women who cannot report cases of domestic violence hence they escape punishment.

Family structure as portrayed by Canadian media.

Mainstream media in Canada sets up the family structure to male domination by the types of movies that portray men as the backbone of Canada while women are homemakers (Galabuzi, 2010). Advertisements show Canadian families with the male as the head of every aspect of the society: work, entertainment and politics while women and girls take up inferior roles. This image creates a male dominated family structure across Canada in the minds or readers and viewers. Most reporters, news anchors and producers in any media network are men. This gives men the upper hand to act as the head of families in major decision-making. Women in advertisements market personal hygiene products such as bathroom or kitchen products. This portrays the role of women in the society is in the home. The media portray men as intellectual and independent in dramas, advertisements and in the media production industry. In movies, men have superior and heroic roles while women play homemakers, secretaries and prostitutes (Tastsoglou, 2009).

Mainstream media production on sexism and racism.

The mainstream media in Canada advocates for movies, advertisements and news presentation by white Canadian men. Native Canadians or other ethnic communities in Canada do not get public representation in the media because of the assumed stereotypes. Movie productions do not include people of colour or interracial relationships that white Canadians disregard. Aboriginal families only make headline news in cases of crimes or mismanagement of funds (Douglas, 2008). Advertisements focus on white Canadian families and not Native Canadians because the media wants to portray a functional male dominated family structure as compared to a native dysfunctional family. Media portrays racialized families as illiterate, violent, poor and ignorant. Most movies in Canada lack equal representation from all races in the country. People of colour will cut the ratings of a drama, movie, advertisement or viewers in case of reporters from racialized communities (Douglas, 2008).

Sexism in the media occurs when women and men play specific roles to portray real personality attributes displayed in real families. Women in the media reflect childcare, homemaker and employees in low-level jobs such as secretaries and servers. Advertisements prescribe roles of women as home and family oriented. There are women who advertise superficial beauty in the sense that, they are tall, thin, without blemish, perfect teeth and long legs but underneath all the beauty, she has no brains. Some advertisements portray women as sex objects void of any feelings or personality. Such advertisements show women lying on a bed half-naked or likened to animals that dehumanize them as acting primarily on sexual instincts.

 Methodology.

The method used to collect data is through questionnaire in the campus and thorough research using scholarly journals. Questionnaires are easy to create, they are cheap and fast mode of collecting data. It also protects the identity of people of colour who contributed to the research.

Data analysis.

In data collection, twenty students from different ethnic backgrounds contributed to the research. The 20 students are sample population to represent the wider community of racialized families in Canada. This data included all the questions that encompass all issues of racism from direct to indirect racism. The problems met while collecting the data was late submission of the questionnaires. Due to confidentiality, refraining from personally collecting the questionnaires from the sample population was the best option. Some students lost or misplaced the questionnaires and they received new copies that meant extra spending on the tight budget.

Results.

Twenty students admitted to witnessing racism directed to them or their friends in the campus. The students who encountered racism from individuals either in school or in the community were 15 in number. Two of the students confessed to systemic racism directed to them. All students believe that the mainstream media reproduces violence against racialized families. Law enforcement officers stopped 10 students of the sample population for random search. Eighteen students report cases of institutional racism in healthcare facilities and restaurants. Twenty students believe that the mainstream media is sexist and racist. The reasons that the students gave as personal opinions of the causes of violence against racialized families include race, culture, economic status and ethnic background.

Discussion.

All students in the research report cases of racism directed towards them at one point in their school life. This means that racism in the school compound and in the wider community is rampant. There are individuals who utter racial slurs and students have witnessed violence due to race. When students apply for residential accommodation outside the school, property owners discriminate the students who are immigrants and Indigenous people. The student report cases of discrimination when they are registering for courses, renting apartments and in restaurants. The mainstream media reproduces violence against racialized families due to the images portrayed about people of colour. The police have a tendency of stopping students from racialized families and doing random search while discriminating their rights to privacy. Media is racist and sexist because of the different stereotypical status depicted on people of colour and women in the society.

Conclusion

Media and violence against racialized families is a common in Canada due to Somali refugees, African asylum seekers, Indigenous people and minority groups. White Canadians direct racism and violence towards these groups based on race, poverty, crime, lack of education and stereotypical assumptions portrayed by the media. Violence is a common occurrence within racialized families because the victims who are women and children lack the financial power and voice to raise their concerns. These women do not receive protection from the police because the media has portrayed them as prostitutes who deserve the sexual violence and domestic abuse. The media use suggestive images of racialized teenagers to portray crime and illiteracy. These images strike negative thoughts on the minds of viewers and readers hence reinforcing violence against the people of colour. The media also portray sexism and racism in term of advertisement and movie roles given to women. These roles depict women as homemakers, cleaners and sexual objects while men take up powerful roles that portray role models in the society, decision makers and professionals. 

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