Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Native Americans, Chicanos, and Asian Americans: Social Movements and the Media

In Stephanie Greco Larson’s chapter titled Native Americans, Chicanos, and Asian Americans: Social Movements and the Media, in her book, Media & Minorities, the Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, Larson writes about a few different social movements of those three racial minority groups and how the mass media covered those movements.

First, Larson writes about American Indian movements and how the media covered their stories. She writes about the American Indians claiming Alcatraz in 1969, the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the confrontation at Wounded Knee. Larson writes that although each movement was covered by the media, it was not always covered positively. Many of the American Indian social movements were organized and designed in a way that promoted the use of media and made it easier for the media to cover each situation. This helped to promote positive coverage through the beginning stages of the movements. However, the mass media portrayed the American Indians in many stereotypical situations. The American Indians were able to use these stereotypes to bring attention and news media to their social movements, but often times the media portrayed the protesters as negative or “violent” which obviously showered negative views about the American Indians movements and intentions.

Second, Larson writes about Chicano social movements and the coverage of these movements by the media. Larson writes about coverage on the Organization of Farm Workers, the Crusade for Justice, and the Chicano Youth Movement. What was found was that there was little coverage by the media of each movement. Larson discusses the Poor People’s Campaign, organized by Martin Luther King Jr. This campaign contained mostly Mexican people. However, coverage in the national newsmagazines “…characterized it (the Poor People’s Campaign) as a “black even”” (187). Chicanos were depicted as negative and in conflict with black individuals involved in the campaign. Larson writes that in much of the coverage of Chicano social movements, “…disruptive and violent stereotypes were common” (189).

Finally, Larson writes about the coverage of the Asian American Movement. Larson discusses the Third World Strike at San Francisco State University in 1968-69. Again, there was little press coverage of this movement. Larson writes that this could be due to the lack of organization on the movement’s part. On page 190, Larson writes, “The lack of a national leader, the concentration of supporters in a few geographic areas, and the lack of a specific plan of action would help explain a lack of visibility” (190). What was more effective was the alternative press created by the Asian American social movement.

Larson writes in her conclusion that there was little positive news coverage of each of the social movements within American Indians, Chicanos and Asian Americans. Larson writes that much of the nature of the coverage was based on ‘violent’ acts and that “The most favorable coverage was given to the least radical events and individuals” (192). Larson writes that best positive and most effective coverage came from a parallel press that each movement had.

HACER – Hispanic American Center for Economic Research

Website: http://www.hacer.org/

“The Hispanic American Center for Economic Research is a 501(c)(3) organization that is supported entirely through gifts from individuals, philanthropic foundations, and corporations. Its goal is to promote the study of issues pertinent to the countries of Hispanic America as well as Hispanic Americans living in the United States, especially as they relate to the values of personal and economic liberty, limited government under the rule of law, and individual responsibility. HACER does this by both generating and supporting independent research.” - HACER

I decided to look up news stories regarding Hispanic Americans and I came across this online news source. HACER says that they recognize the growing population of Hispanics in the U.S. and how they are largely and typically underrepresented in news media and public debates. HACER was established in 1996 and states that one of its purposes is to look at problems in other countries (specifically South American countries) and bring about awareness and discussion across national borders:

“While there are a number of important Latin American research institutes sympathetic to the cause of liberty and free markets, none has traditionally taken a "regional" - as opposed to a country-specific - perspective to these issues. HACER was founded to fill this vacuum by studying common problems faced in different countries, thereby creating important dialogue across national borders about best practices, ongoing challenges, and other lessons learned” - HACER

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