Let’s Go, Smarty-Pants!

I get it.  You are the master of the Information Age.  If you’re like the rest of us, I know you’re spending 8 maybe 10 hours a day glued to some screen or another–the smart phone wrapped around you like a leash or the giant screen tv that awaits you in your man cave, the computer you’re  locked in a staring contest with at your desk all day or the laptop that’s an extension of your very soul.

Like potato chips, you probably don’t even realize just how much you’re consuming, but trust me, we’re eating the whole bag here.

 But its not like you’re zombifying out to marathons of reality tv.  It is the Information Age and there’s a lot to stay up with.  How else can you stay current with a world of news, a host of celebrities competing for air time and the 648 friends that you’re keeping up with on Facebook?  You’d hardly know what to tweet about if you didn’t.
Whether you can remember the Dos prompt or you cut your teeth on an iPod, we all spend more minutes staying up to the minute than ever before.  So you’re savvy.  You’ve binge watched all of the Walking Dead and you could blow through a double jeaopardy round of questions on pop culture.  Sure you’ve seen every Super Bowl ad and seen more than a few bad public relations disasters.  Hardly a week goes by with out one.
And more often than never race and racism are in the mix.
So here comes your coworker/ professor/ boyfriend/ sister-in-law.  They want to know if you saw the latest and what you think.  They’ going to ask you to render an opinion on the most recent brouhaha over race in the media.
They’re going to ask you, ” did you think that was racist?”
Hey, you know what to do.  You live in what they have assured us is a black-president-electing-diversity-loving-open-minded-post-racial America.  So now we all agree on what’s racist and so you know just what to say to not look like an ass.
Except, maybe you’re not sure.  Even though we’ve all been chewing on this media diet for years, rarely have we ever learned how to stop to decode what we’re seeing based on more than a passing opinion.
And even though we want to live in post racial America, maybe we’re not quite there yet, and we could stand to talk some of this stuff out rather than shouting each other down.
This isn’t just water cooler chic.  Media messages about race are all around us, and they affect the way that we think about race, privilege and people in the real world.
But you’ve got smntks.
Here well get into the thorny patch of race in American media and clear a path for you.
Let’s get past the same old he said she said around race in the media and come to some common ways to talk and think about what we see.
So the next time they ask you at the church picnic/ boys night out/ book club if you thought something is racist.
You will have THOUGHT something.
Don’t you look smart?

Author: Susan X Jane

Susan X Jane is a diversity educator, speaker, and trainer and coach. A former professor and media literacy activist, she now consults with organizations looking to make sense of our current cultural shift. She thinks a lot about media and race…a lot...and writes and speaks about media…and race... and encourages everyone she meets to think about the way our identity shapes our experiences, ideas, and beliefs about the world. If you're reading this, she wants you to think about it too. Want to talk about it? Let's go.

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