Illustrations of a megaphone, a person in a hijab, a person reading a book, a slide, a microphone and a person on a laptop

Click. Swipe. Scroll. Replay. 

Pause.

We consume more content and information today than ever before, using new digital technologies and platforms to source and share content at lightning speed.

The impact of COVID-19 has magnified this reliance on the media and digital content for information globally; book reading and audiobook listening increased by 14 percent, social media usage increased by 21 percent, and news consumption surged 36 percent. With this increase in consumption comes an increase of power that the media has to influence the perceptions of ourselves, and of others, through the way it represents, or under-represents, people around the world. 

As our media consumption increases, so must our commitment to careful examination of the sources of the content we're reading, watching and sharing. We must move away from being passive consumers and scrollers and swipers, to engaged allies in ensuring that the perspectives we share with others, and the perspectives we form of ourselves, promote and foster equity, rather than perpetuate existing bias and racism.

Representation of Minority Women and Men in Canadian Drama Series

Two circular pie graphs showing minority representations in Canadian drama series

In Canada, only 4% of female characters and 12% of male characters in Canadian dramatic series are people of minority backgrounds.

What, and who, we see on our screens matters. Under representation or misrepresentation of minority groups can reinforce stereotypes. It is essential we continue to demand better from the shows, movies, and music we love to ensure equitable representation reflective of the reality of our multi-cultural world.

A New Entertainment Media

The faces and stories of the people we read about in books, on TV shows and in movies affects both how we perceive others, and how we perceive ourselves. Despite this, minorities are not adequately represented in mainstream media. As you learned above, in Canada, only 4% of female characters and 12% of male characters in Canadian dramatic series are people of minority backgrounds. Native Americans are rarely portrayed in mass media and when they are, they are typically depicted in a way that reinforces stereotypes. 

Representations associated with minority groups in the media can convey to minority group members that they do not belong and can't be successful in achievement-related fields outside of their reinforced stereotypes. A study conducted by The Opportunity Agenda uncovers a disturbing connection between media representation of black males and and lowered life expectancy. As a consumer, you can contribute to more equitable representation in the following ways:

  • Consider your consumption. Show your support by watching, sharing or donating to minority-led creative outlets
  • When contributing to media publications, in writing on online, use this communications builder tool from The Opportunity Agenda to ensure your coverage is equitable
  • Sign petitions, like this one in the United States, that demand for equitable reporting and representation in news and media outlets

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