In the wake of the terrorist attacks that shook Paris to its core, upwards of three million people took to the streets of Paris in an expression of solidarity that many claim is the largest in France’s history. As leaders from around the world joined hand in hand through the streets of Paris, the streets in northeastern Nigeria were crowded with something that didn’t seem to capture the media’s attention: corpses. Continue reading Media’s Blind Eye Towards Boko Haram
Matt Miller is a senior media studies major.
As an individual that bears marginalized identities, I feel especially impacted by and interested in issues of diversity and social justice. This inclination is, in part, what made me choose USF in my college search as a prospective student. USF’s mission statement lists “the diversity of perspectives, experiences and traditions” as one of its core educational values. Coming here, I expected to find comfort in the diversity the institution promised I would find.
After three years of being a student at the university, however, I’ve come to feel underwhelmed by the representation of diverse perspectives on-campus.
In my Media Studies courses, I often take a moment to scan the classroom and observe my peers. My eyes are met with classes filled with white privileged students, and as each semester draws on, it becomes clear that issues of diversity aren’t a prime focus for many of my fellow Media Studies majors.
To me, it seems the majority of student media on-campus is produced by the privileged, about the privileged, and for the privileged.
Student-produced content created by classmates or by student media outlets like USFtv or the Foghorn will often miss the mark when it comes to representing the diverse perspectives the university claims are a core value to this institution. When I attend student film showings, I’m disappointed by the overrepresentation of privileged narratives and the underrepresentation or complete misrepresentation of marginalized narratives. I can only sit through so many straight, cisgendered white narratives before I start to wonder why so many perspectives are erased semester after semester.
In recent times, it feels as though USFtv’s cultural segment has missed a wealth of opportunities to cover important cultural issues like San Francisco’s growing gentrification problem. Instead of covering issues that matter, the cultural segment has most recently focused on topics like Pug Sunday at Alta Plaza Park and the best places to find coffee in the city. While I enjoy cute dog videos as much as the next person, I’d rather see a cultural segment that covers issues of greater value.
The Foghorn’s satirical April Fools issue offended some people of subordinated identities in the USF community last semester. The misrepresentation of marginalized identities in that issue, intentional or not, sparked a crucial conversation about the way marginalized identities fit into campus media.
Do students producing media at USF bear a responsibility to be more conscious of marginalized identities? Are our Media Studies professors doing enough to meet the core educational values in the university’s mission statement?
While it would be highly unrealistic to expect every student involved in producing media on-campus to focus their energies solely on issues of diversity and social justice, I do think there is serious room to improve when it comes to giving the spotlight to these topics.
Going into my final year at USF, I hope to see a shift in the kind of content my peers create. Diverse perspectives already exist amongst the USF community—right now, I think it’s a matter of continuing the existing conversation about what issues deserve more air time, how to properly represent marginalized identities, and in what ways community leaders like professors can do more to promote a focus on these topics.
I hope I can leave this university feeling more satisfied with the way student media includes diverse perspectives. As things stand right now, however, there’s still much to be desired.
Facebook sets the stage for gender inclusion
This month, Facebook added over 50 new gender options and by doing so, changed the way people have been forced to identify themselves on social media for the past ten years. Users will no longer be forced to conform to the gender binary of male and female. All one needs to do now is customize their gender, and Facebook will offer the multitude of options — including cis(gender), gender fluid, transsexual, and neither — in a drop-down menu. Not just that, Facebook users will now be given the choice to publicize their preferred pronoun for those who are not already aware. At the Foghorn office, we find this move to be progressive and a much-needed acknowledgement of the diverse range of genders on a widely used online platform by all generations.
This shift in Facebook settings triggered a media circus. Bloggers and news sources took it upon themselves to identify all 56 new, gender options for those who were confused or unaware that there were so many ways one could identify; and the likes of Stephen Colbert interviewed acclaimed transsexual author and activist, Janet Mock.
Daniela Ricci, former Editor-in-chief of the Foghorn, identifies themself as genderqueer, and says “I’ve seen a lot of backlash from people who have never heard of non-binary gender identities before and consider it freakish, unnecessary, annoying, etc., which just goes to show that just because something is on Facebook, doesn’t make it automatically socially acceptable. I’ve also heard people in the queer community scoff at it and consider it a relatively meaningless action… I don’t think it’s revolutionary or anything, but I do think it’s a small step in the right direction of normalizing queer identities and making people like me feel as though there is a place for us in society.”
Users will no longer be forced to conform to the gender binary of male and female.
The fact is that while this change is a move forward, it comes with its own murky territory. Those who are unwilling to learn about gender and sex might alienate those who have decided to make known their gender identification. And there is no denying that others might abuse this new feature, thinking it as funny as getting creative with the ‘religious views’ and ‘political views’ section. This only means that we must take advantage of the timeliness of this Facebook move and push for more awareness and education of the struggles of those who affiliate with a multitude genders and sexes.
For more resources and educational material on related topics, please contact the USF Gender and Sexuality Center in UC 412, or email at [email protected]
All photos by Binh Tran-Tu
Have your ever been discriminated against? How about as a child? Jocelyn Herrera in this audio piece produced by Diana Guardado explains to us her first encounter with racism at school for being Latina on May 1st, the day immigrants go out to march for their rights in this country.