On June 6, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White was one of the featured panelists in a discussion of how black men are depicted in the media. Organized by the National Association of Black Journalists, the How They See Us virtual panel was part of the NABJ’s Black Male Media Project initiative, which develops training and mentorship opportunities for African American men working in journalism. Other panelists included CBS News’ 60 in 6 correspondent Wesley Lowery, Black News Channel chairman J.C. Watts Jr. and reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer Dean J. Hampton with SAG-AFTRA member and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker as moderator.
The group reflected on the media’s treatment of George Floyd, the perceptions of black men, and how the news cycle plays a role in the public’s understanding of the subsequent protests and calls for systemic change.
“At some level, this isn’t about how white people see black people,” said White. “This is about the cultural and structural transformation that will need to [take place] in order for black people to have a different status in our society.”
White also highlighted the efforts of black men who work in the entertainment industry to change negative stereotypes. He cited the work of independent producers and creatives who are leading those efforts, as well as the need for change on an executive level.
“Let us recognize a shift that has happened since digital platforms have become more dominant in the way … Hollywood treats storylines of people of color and, in particular, African Americans,” said White, citing filmmakers like Ava Duvernay and Tyler Perry.
“There are now people in front of and behind the camera telling stories, and … being picked up by [viewers] who want to hear those stories, but Hollywood has a lot to do [on the executive level]. The pipelines for who gets the job as the decision maker are narrow and need to be expanded.”
The panel ended with a question-and-answer session that offered helpful advice regarding working in the industry.
To watch the panel, scroll below, and for more information about the NABJ, please visit their website.
The views expressed by the guests are their own and not that of SAG-AFTRA. Any mention of products or services does not imply SAG-AFTRA’s endorsement.
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