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How Black Media Impacted The Culture

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

Colorful photo of the cast of A Different World

Black media seems to be more influential today than it has ever been and continues to grow beyond measure in the role that it plays in our lives. The scope of media today comes in many different mediums, each categorized by type and product. There is a seemingly endless variety to select from film, television, music, magazine, newspapers, video & photography, radio, blogs, and podcasts; and now the ever-increasing dominant distribution method of Social Media has crossed the threshold into direct human access and action. Over the last century, major advancements and breakthroughs have delivered polished high-definition productions faster and more accessible than previous generations and are broadcast worldwide.

Media has the inherent power to affect people, only at different temperatures, as the prophetic Marshall McLuhan might say. As we see this unfold in front of our eyes, we notice the corporate world is obsessed with analytics, the endless pursuit of views, plays, likes, and subscribers, let alone the old-fashioned television rating. The average African-American watches two hours of prime time T.V. and five more of daytime television daily. This demographic alone has a purchasing power of $1.1 trillion.

I honestly believe in the start of the development of black media & its outlets of course the intentions were pure & strictly about empowerment and creative expression, but like most things in life, we took a turn for the worse somewhere along the journey and ignored self-correction. We are in a new day one that is believed to be one of enlightenment, consciousness, and access where information, positive images/representation, and communication is all around us literally at our fingertips with google, social media, and other media outlets.

We, the millennial, have witnessed the change in visual media. We can easily look at film & tv shows from 1985-2005 and say wow maybe you can see why things are the way they are now in our communities, neighborhoods, schools, and homes. We can start with The Cosby Show & A Different World, two of the most popular & watched sitcoms of the era & culture in the 80’s & 90’s which encouraged family, love, education, work ethic, and balance. Fast forward to today’s society and your most viewed & top-selling shows are Love & Hip-Hop, Basketball Wives, P-Valley, and Power reality, drama-filled, famous influential cast geared around sex, violence, infidelity, and street/hood culture.

A photo of the cast of The Cosby Show

Also the music aspect of media we’ve been witnesses to some of the most creative and talented minds, creatives, and composers but also the mass degradation of the culture. We went from inspiring love, creativity, being real artists & portraying the times to create negative images/responses. We have a hip-hop music Genre that now primarily promotes drug use, drug dealing, drug trafficking, sex, the envy of material things, violence, infidelity, and propaganda. We have to consciously sit down & think about what legacy we want to leave for ourselves, our families, and our culture because the impact is not one of definite viewing positivity.

Photo of the cast of Basketball Wives VH1

Black media has evolved over the last century. However, I can say that this evolution runs parallel to the education, growth, connection, crime, creativity, and violence of the culture as media industries are concerned as far as quality of material and demonstrating cultural values. No matter how strong we claim to be & the individual we want to be, the understanding and realization has to set in that we're what we see, hear, and surround ourselves with. So the work in fact seems to be switching to a whole new kind of perception/message for the culture more spotlighting drama, sexually enticing material, socially stripping freedom of speech/expression, and adding crippling standards to an already divisive social dating norm. So truly ask yourself what are we spending so much time viewing, listening to, and modeling our focus, minds, and goals after?


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