Social media is one of the most revolutionary things to happen on this earth. Whether people realise just how substantial the impact of it is, well that’s a completely different story. Making this claim, I guess, can be deemed as a rather sweeping statement, however, here’s why I believe it to be true. Social media has changed the way in which we communicate with each other, it’s changed the way we buy, it’s changed how we interact with celebrities and it’s also provided platforms/ opportunities for people to put themselves out there, in ways that would never before have been possible. As such, many of our lives are centred around this digital beast.
This blog post isn’t actually about social media however, so before I digress let’s touch on my last point – ‘social media has provided platforms/ opportunities for people to put themselves out there’ and in turn has given often overlooked/ misrepresented communities a voice that is usually stifled by mainstream media. Does this mean the narrative for black people in media is finally changing?
As many of you already know, black females are often presented as the angry black woman or the “sassy” best friend whilst black males are presented as criminals. However, as social media becomes evermore popular we’re seeing a rise in media outlets founded by and some specifically targeted to black people. These outlets are capturing the full essence of black Britishness and some are consciously making the effort to run fully black led operations. These outlets include; Black Ballad, GUAP magazine, The Receipts Podcast and many more. Some of you may be thinking, well that’s not really a change in narrative as not all of these are mainstream, but my response would be… why does it need to be?
Yes, it’s great when we see black people well represented on the news or in the BBC’s latest drama but why do we yearn for something that was never made to include us in a positive light from the onset? As I said at the start of this blog post social media is revolutionary and is already running laps around old school media outlets. As such, I personally believe we should continue doing what we’re doing, keep building platforms that elevate us and either wait for people to come to us or pitch to people with confidence as opposed to passing round the begging bowl.
That being said, I feel as though 2018 has truly been the year of diversity and inclusion and as such mainstream media is picking up on the need for more diverse content. Channel 4 released The Big Narstie show and Peng Life this year and have also commissioned Mo the Comedian’s show to be launched next year. Black Panther broke box office records earlier this year with it’s all black cast (bar one) and Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene created a flurry within the UK publishing industry.
So what does this all mean for the representation of black people in the media? Is the narrative finally changing? Honestly, I’m going to say yes. I’m sure there will be many more Samira Love Island scenarios in the years/ decades to come but I think what’s different now is the fact that more black people are standing up and taking ownership of things. We’re seeing more black creatives representing in their respective fields and opening doors for future generations to do the same, if not better. There are more black owned media outlets and there are more black people in the offices of media mega houses. I believe we’re headed in the right direction and that the best is yet to come.