From your understanding of stereotypes and social norms, do you think television programs and commercials provide a realistic view of the diverse groups in the United States?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The issue of race and racial identity is so complex and so nuanced that I am not sure any 30 second commercial or television program can effectively display a realistic point of view regarding the dialectical "other" in the United States when it comes to the issue of race.  Essentially, television and advertisements are in a "Catch- 22" type of situation.  If they actually depict a setting in which racial issues are not as present as they used to be or if they provide a realistic view where there is some type of consensus of "happy ending, " then these forums will be labeled as not being realistic or grounded in reality.  If these venues provide a dour or grim assessment, then they are criticized for locking people of color into a racially stratified condition from which there is no exit. It is a precarious balance and one that causes a great deal of challenge to the advertisement or the commercial program. I think that there have been advances in racial diversity being represented and having a voice acknoweldged by advertisers and television programmers. In no other time in history do we find more shows and more avenues that feature people of color. However, I am not convinced that this suggests problems with race and racial identity are in the past or that the television programmers or advertisers cannot do more in such areas. I think that discussing, both internally and externally, what actually constitutes "realistic view" is part of this discourse and something that can help generate progressive understanding on a topic that has vexed the nation for as long as it has been in existence.

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