University Panel on Racial Profiling in the Media

Kiana Quinonez

University of New Haven students and faculty gathered in Bartels Alumni Lounge to discuss the issue of racial profiling prevalent in mass media, in a panel hosted by the Charger Bulletin, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Latin American Student Association, on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The panel included Juan Hernandez, director of the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Markeshia Ricks, writer for New Haven Independent, Gary Winfield, Connecticut State Senator, and Marissa Rosado, a senior at the University of New Haven.

The panel discussed topics related to the impact of media on racial profiling in society, the long term effects of negative racial media coverage, and the phenomenon of sudden racial discussion that occurs only after extreme events such as the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

“I think we do allow our media to be somewhat biased,” said Hernandez. “I’ll give you a very good example…Cyntoia Brown. All of the pictures you see of her, are of her in an orange jumpsuit…a prisoner. According to the media she had no life before that, she had just been a prisoner her whole life. Then you have the other side of that…Brock Turner. You see these amazing pictures of him, dressed up in his beautiful Stanford sweatshirt, and that’s how he’s presented.”

Ricks also spoke about the issue of speaking for others when it comes to race and covering racial minorities in different communities in the media.

“Even if you don’t have a diverse newsroom, you have to consistently be thinking about ‘How do we cover people, the people in our community who don’t look like us, who don’t have backgrounds like us, who don’t have access to education like us’,” said Ricks. “The temptation…is to go into those environments and to think ‘I’m just covering the news’. But if you have no sensitivity to what that community is experiencing…you’re covering them like they’re strangers.”

Winfield explained that diversity regarding the coverage of events was difficult without diversity in the newsrooms.

“It really matters who is in those pressrooms. It really matters who decides what gets on the news,” said Winfield. “You have to diversify not simply to have faces of color, but to have people who have a perspective that’s different.”

To view the panel in its entirety, view the live stream on the Charger Bulletin’s Facebook page.