TED Conversations

Bringing Conscious Back

Conscious Filmmaker, Activist for Women and Children

This conversation is closed.

Do Black Representations in Visual Culture effect the outcomes of justice?

I believe this question is hard for some Americans to answer. We know that race effects the justice for African Americans but we defend that it doesn't because we see a handful of African Americans that represent a small percentage that are successful. We tend to think because we have seen some positive images in visual cutlure as Nelson Mandela, Obama, Oprah, Kevin Garnet, Ozwald Boateng and others that race doesn't come into play. Then the case of Trayvon Martin is televised and we the visual representation flashed of negative images that in return effect the outcome of the justice not for Zimmerman but for teh vcitime Trayvon Martin. As a filmmaker it is my responsibility to create an image that will promote unity and not guide individuals of making unconscious decisions because of visual images of the past. That is what needs to be improved in the world.

Share:
  • thumb
    Dec 9 2013: wow!!! it is scary to read you would consider as role models- individuals who have separated themselves from the people and fed the nations crumbs while they ate the best food...

    you should firstly consider yourself an american before you call yourself african, unless you were born and raised in africa or lived there- and not in accommodation better than the local; or passing through

    after all the editing... how much truth are you telling and which truth is it??? is it your truth(how you see it) or a truth for people to discover as the film plays... or a truth to promote and sell the film(sensalism)

    stereotyping and money does change people...
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2013: I think people do know that race can affect the justice people receive. But I think there is only benefit in portraying the contributions to the world of people like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: Thanks for your comment Fritz and that is a valid point. I agree we should look at the contributions folks have made to the world...
  • Dec 14 2013: On a very serious note, after living in America for a fair while, I applaud your efforts to at least to try to improve things.

    But, Americans have to stop looking at themselves as African-American, Mexican-American etc.

    Those stereotypes in the media being used to differentiate people and segregate people, and in some ways give people the excuse to not watch the program as it's "Not for me", ie I'm not part of that group. Rather than bring people together.

    Also after living many years too in Africa, it's a bit of an insult to actual Africans, not many American would be or want to even try to cope with living on this continent. Let alone make the effort to learn one f the vast amounts of languages used on this continent.

    What your goal should be, is to present, whoever you talk to as a filmmaker - first and foremost them as a human being. Maybe, just maybe the viewer will be able to connect with the humanity of the film.

    After all black, white, yellow or whatever, we all share the same emotional experiences, that's what true film making is about exploring them, regardless of color.
  • thumb
    Dec 11 2013: yes it does. this actually reminds me of the Muckrakers during the progressive movement. I love why you chose to do this.
  • Dec 11 2013: I would suggest documentaries about normal African-American families, working hard, trying to make a better life for their children, not on welfare. These are the people many do not see and need to see. The struggles, both the success and failures, which they go through need to be shown.
  • thumb
    Dec 10 2013: Here's some info about contemporary issues for African-Americans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American#Contemporary_issues
  • thumb
    Dec 9 2013: Is America that black and white? What happens to those who are in between? Ideally, justice is blind and it should not be effected by anything visual. If it is it is more a justice debate, not cultural one.
    Can you try creating a film in shadows? Or with as diverse visual representations as possible, like say Peter Brook's Mahabharata.
    • thumb
      Dec 10 2013: Pabitra,
      You are far enough away to see the forest from the trees. Justices is blind here in the USA... Not to say that she hasn't peeked underneath her blindfold at times. When I was younger there were people who just a generation or two from our civil war. Many people from the losing side... blame the freed slaves and their descendants for their loss of the war. Actually, the war was fought for... you guessed it.... financial reasons. Northern mercantilists and Southern cotton growers were fighting over tariffs. The slavery issues was a populist distraction to give the war more moral credits. Nobody would enlist to fight over other people's money. On the bright side, it did free slaves, on the dark side, it began a slow dissolution of the US Constitution. There are still those who been told racist stories by their elder family members. I am of the opinion, that in another
      generation or two, most all of this will have died out. In the mean time, the justice system must not turn a "blind eye" to infractions. This also means, the Justice system must not fall to every cry of racism, There has been that too. Justice must be fair to all... regardless of race, creed, ....
      • thumb
        Dec 11 2013: what is justice but an imagined perfection by imperfect people who feel it is their duty to represent it.
        • thumb
          Dec 11 2013: I see it more as all people receive fair and honest evaluation of alleged violations of social norms or requirements. We appoint/elect those imperfect people to make these judgments of justice of these alleged violations of imperfect people.
        • thumb
          Dec 12 2013: exaclty Thaddea...
  • Dec 9 2013: From my perspective racism is when we consider people as belonging to a different group than the group we belong to. I personally differentiate for a variety of reasons and the more perception of threat a person is the more likely I will categorize them as belonging to a different group. For that reason I am comfortable with babies and the elderly. As a man I find other men usually more threatening than women. However if a man is friendly their differences are immediately erased and my mind begins focusing on our commonality.
    My suggestion for you is to cast people into your films without regard to race. Unless the film is specifically about race don't talk about race, if the viewer is watching your film I would suggest it would be preferable if they noticed only those characteristics that you want them to see.

    My hopeful message is that I have noticed that among the people that I know the younger they are the less they notice race. I think the racism in our justice system will be solved when the children born today are the judges and police.
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: Thank you for your comment Vincent, I specialize in documentary so I don't cast on race. I actually seek a story that is underground and highlight that issue or cause. As a media professional I can't help notice that race is underlining issue. My purpose for posting was to get a different audience opinion than what I would if I went to a different community and popsed the se same question. I have posed this question in other platofrms and it is interesting the feedback and comments that have been conveyed. I definitely agree with you that the younger they are the less they notice race. Which shoudl be the norm anyways but as you and I are bth asware leave it media images and we tend to believe what we see...
      • Dec 10 2013: Nicholle:
        I took some time to read your web site. Among the many very good ideas you present I liked your pledge especially the last lines that state, “Know that I am blessed”. We are all blessed and we are all deserving – we are called to love the person standing next us even if they are threatening but we cannot love that person unless we first love ourselves.
        I appreciate what you do but if I could give one thought for you to consider it would be that “Love and Forgiveness are far more powerful than Justice”. I was struck by some of the news stories about Nelson Mandela today. The Love and Forgiveness he showed to his enemies was truly inspirational.

        I am personally against race but I am always reminded by other people that race exists. Not much of a fan of nationality either, I like to think of us all as people
        • thumb
          Dec 12 2013: I respect your opinion but I see race everyday when officers are arresting innocent Black children at a bust stop on their way to a game. I see racism when I am pulled over because they a saw a black face in a nice car and have no reason for stopping me. I see race when I attended graduate school and folks wouldn't work with me on set because I was BLACK. I see race when innocent people of color are harrased, beat, and killed at the hands of our police or others. When an innocent individuals are sent to prison for over 25 years for a crime they didn't commit, I see race.
          I totally agree with you Mandela did forgive and show love. The issue that stands before us is when folks like myself who are liberal are repreatedly dehumanized because of the hue of our skin. I personally have friends of all colors because it is critical to understand as many cultures as you can. It doesn't erase I know that the media will continue to highlight race when presenting their stoires. I am not a racist but I am conscious that it does exist and it does effect the justice system. You can ask Trayvon Martin's parents, ask Stanely Wrice, Betty Tyson, Leonard Peltier and numerous others and I am sure they will agree.
      • Dec 13 2013: The injustice of life hits us all a little differently. I personally have been luckier than most but even I have been treated unfairly for many different reasons. I do not want to minimize the injustice that you or anyone else has been subjected to; my only hope is that the injustices don’t define you and that you can accept and be thankful for the circumstances of your life.

        The justice system is unfortunately filled with people and people have a nasty habit of treating other people badly. If the justice system were color blind I do not think there would be any less injustice. That being said I think it is important to continue to bring to the light of day the abuse of power that goes on in our Justice system and in our society as a whole.

        I will take what you have said and make a special effort to treat the young black men and women around me with kindness.

        Thanks for the conversation
  • Dec 8 2013: According to the Human Rights Watch, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but they have higher rate of arrests. African Americans comprise 14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses. From 1980 to 2007 about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs were African American.
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2013: what is your evidence that race affects justice for African Americans? Maybe African Americans just commit more crimes?
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: Thank you for your commnet Greg.
      My evidence that race effects justice for African Americans is plentiful in the media.
      A classic example of race in today's justice system is the Perry vs. New Hampshire case.
      http://www.nij.gov/journals/270/Pages/reduce-eyewitness-mistakes-testimony.aspx
      As far as your assumpiton maybe AA's just commit more crimes I'm not going to entertain you today.
      • thumb
        Dec 10 2013: Yeah, I read most of the Supreme Court decision on Perry v. New Hampshire after you replied to my comment. It did not seem to involve an issue of race particularly. Where do you see racial bias in this case?

        If I look at the incarceration rates for the different races, I do see that a substantially larger percentage of AA's are imprisoned. I guess there are different possible reasons. One possibility might be that they commit more, or more severe, crimes. Another possibility might be that there's some sort of racial bias at work. I guess I can try to research why there is a substantially larger number of AA's in jail or prison. BCB, how do you think I could do the best job of researching this topic, given that I'm not professionally involved in the justice system, I'm not a court worker, or prison worker, or lawyer, or policeman.
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2013: I am Caucasian. Sure racism exists and you don't have to look hard to find it. I think that justice is something that is delivered to the Blacks by other races who believe themselves superior in some way. There have always been persecutors and Blacks are not the only victims, but I realize that you are addressing that particular group. I am not and have never been a racist. I have friends who are and sometimes if the situation requires it , I challenge them to explain their reasons for their perversion. I have never gotten a worthy answer from any of them Peace brother.
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: Thank you Helen, for your comment. Good to see you have some conscious thoughts like myself about folks having the idealogy they are superior. You hit it right on the head that is why I posed the question for folks in this arena to sit back and think baout how many images you may have seen of Blacks in the media and were they positive images. As a media professional I wanted to get a different take on this same question I posed on another platform to see what the comments would revela. Thank you for being conscious and sincere.