The four presentations on this panel analyzed the ethical issues of stereotyping, authenticity, access, and respect for diverse perspectives that are central to creating and viewing representations of race, ethnicity, and gender in the media. From Christine Choy’s reflections on her long career to Edna Negron’s analysis of Latinas in digital and social media, these talks offer valuable insights and tools for analysis.
Christine Choy: Forty Years of Documentary Filmmaking
Christine Choy is a filmmaker and Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film, Television and New Media. She has produced and directed over 70 documentaries in various forms, receiving over 60 international awards. Among them are numerous fellowships such as the John Simon Guggenheim, the Rockefeller, and the Asian Cultural Council, as well as an Academy Award Nomination for the documentary film, Who Killed Vincent Chen? Many of her works examine the dynamics of Chinese and Korean communities and the relations between Black and Asian communities in the United States.
Dale Byam: August Wilson and the Ethics of Legacy
Dale Byam is an Assistant Professor of Performance Studies in the Department of Africana Studies at Brooklyn College. Her research focuses on popular culture and development. She is the author of Community in Motion: Theater for Development in Africa (Greenwood, 1999), “Communal Space in Africa,” in Radical Street Performance (Routledge, 1998), and “Theater in A Time of Hardship” in The Applied Theater Reader (Routledge, 2009). She authored and co-produced the documentary video August in April: A Tribute to August Wilson. She is presently completing a book that examines the transformations in Afro indigenous performance in the English speaking Caribbean.
Sharron Greaves: Hello Kitty, Goodbye Masculinity: Sociology, Cam Newton, and Images of the Black Athlete in Contemporary American Media
We regret that we are unable to include video of Dr. Sharron Greaves’ presentation. However, to acknowledge her contribution to the panel and to encourage you to look up her work, we have instead included a brief synopsis of her presentation below.
Synopsis: An infamous 2012 cartoon of the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton in The Charlotte Observer, trended on social media, and provided exceptional fodder for debate concerning both the reason for and tone of the depiction. Cam Newton, a black quarterback, a fact in itself that has long been besieged by fallacious assertions concerning the intelligence quotient of this athlete compared to his white counterparts, was depicted as revealing a Hello Kitty as opposed to a Superman tee-shirt under his football jersey. Newton is known to strike the “Superman pose” upon completion of a successful feat on the football field, yet the question begs why depict the young man with a promising National Football League career before him in such a manner? Moreover, why did the editorial page, in particular, feel the need to do this? Cam Newton’s athletic accomplishments are the stuff of sports pages, yet for the editorial page to insert itself into the larger discussion of his athletic prowess and, ostensibly, feminize his efforts with a Hello Kitty depiction typically associated with little girls as opposed to the machismo ascribed to Superman, brings to light recollections of maligned concepts of black athletes who have long been scrutinized for seemingly everything besides their athletic talents. This 2012 instance contributes to a disconcerting trend of social media being a vehicle through which to disseminate the specious legacy of distorted black images.
Sharron Greaves is an Associate Professor of Communications and Chairperson of the Department of Communications at Nyack College. She has done extensive research on black imagery, particularly that of black women, in Hollywood as well as the ethics of black representation in film. Much of her recent work has centered on Nollywood, the Nigerian Film industry and new tropes of black imagery that it has introduced in the global media marketplace.
Edna Negron: Latinas Taking Charge of the Narrative
Edna Negron is a Professor of Journalism at Ramapo College of New Jersey and a lifelong member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Her research has been on the fastest growing U.S. demographic, Generation Y Latinos, those born between 1977-1995, and their growing influence on the media landscape. She helped launched the website, soloella.com, a site that was instructive in issues facing young Latinas as an online community. She works on issues engaging young Latinos such as immigration, education, transnational identity, and bicultural lifestyle, which are rarely discussed in mainstream media.
Question & Answer Session, Moderated by Lynda R. Day
Lynda R. Day is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Africana Studies at Brooklyn College. Her research focuses on women’s political leadership in precolonial West Africa. She is the author of Gender and Power: The Women Chiefs of Sierra Leone (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).