As a part of their “Tech N’ Color” race discussion series, Ithaca College’s Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity invited Dr. Bruce Hoskins to give a lecture on his own experiences regarding race and technology.
The event offered Ithaca College students a chance to get an inside look into Hoskins’ journey as an educator and an activist. Mainly with the help of his own students, Hoskins was able to branch out across various technological mediums and “amplify the activist voice in [his] scholarship and teaching.” Through the use of slam poetry and a discussion of his own research on multi-ethnicity, Hoskins challenged Ithaca College students to think about what it really means to be a minority in today’s society.
Hoskins, who is a professor of Sociology at MiraCosta Community College in Oceanside, California, also emphasized the importance of starting from home. Being from Oceanside himself, Hoskins believes that the only way to induce change is to start from the roots, which is why he chose to become a community college professor in his hometown.
“I chose community college because I need to be there and I need to effect change in the people there,” he says. “If I can’t produce change in my hometown then I have no business doing it anywhere else.”
Throughout today’s media, minority groups remain as the most underrepresented groups that are portrayed in a positive light. In a case study regarding media and race, it was found that “supremacist ideologies” and “racist beliefs” have been ingrained in the mindset of white Americans for so long that it has now become a “less conscious variant of segregation”.
“Whether it’s appearing in disparaging roles or not appearing at all, minorities are the victim of an industry that relies on old ideas to appeal to the ‘majority’ at the expense of the insignificant minority,” the study states. “No longer is it the blatant practice upheld by the law and celebrated with hangings and beatings, but instead it is a subtle practice that is the ‘crown jewel’ of the entertainment, media and film industries.”
Popular television shows and movies today perpetuate these stereotypes mostly through the use of comedy. Minorities are typically seen as the “comic relief” and are often represented as less intelligent or less competent. Television sitcoms such as Family Guy poke fun at these racial stereotypes, mostly as a way to get a good laugh.
“In the United States, we are trained to be apathetic,” says Hoskins. “I’m standing in this space wearing Nikes knowing damn well they were made in a sweatshop. We know what capitalism does to us but we still only say ‘Damn, that sucks’ because we’re trained so well.”
In recent years, however, social media activism has become more prevalent among millennials. After the Michael Brown shooting, young black teens took to the trending hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to point out the vast racial inequalities that the media perpetuates through reports regarding minorities.
“Social media gives me evidence that racism still exists,” says Hoskins. “People are just a lot better at hiding it.”