Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Symbolic Annihilation and Inclusiveness

Symbolic Annihilation occurs when there is an absence of representation in the media. The absence of African Americans in some realms of print, online, and televised media sends a message that black people do not matter enough in society to be represented or even acknowledged in some areas. This lack of representation is important because it prevents black people and people of all races for that matter from viewing African Americans beyond limited stereotypes. The symbolic annihilation of black people actively pursuing scholarly goals in media probably diminishes the reality and future possibilities. --A. Smith and H. Rambsy II
In efforts to attract groups of “minorities” and to promote “diversity” and inclusiveness, universities often move from symbolic annihilation to over-representation by showcasing black and brown faces on university marketing items. The presence of students of color on promotional materials somewhat exaggerates their actual presence on campus. For instance, the regular appearance of black students on university brochures and web-sites is far more likely than their appearance in a range of academic programs on campus. Perhaps, we can refer to these forms of over-representation as symbolic diversity and inclusiveness. It’s well-meaning no doubt, but somewhat misleading as well. H. Rambsy II

28 Racial Barriers


Unknown said...

Re. "symbolic diversity and inclusiveness": Is this kind of like when I see politicians selling their spiel and the camera seems to focus on the few non-white people in the audience...who somehow often conveniently happen to be sitting behind the candidate...when you can obviously tell that the majority present are white? Sometimes these events seem "natural" and other times they seem staged.

H. Rambsy said...

Yep, exactly. I've heard that savvy aides for politicians make these kinds of things happen.

Back during the Dems primary a couple of years ago, a friend of mine (an African American) attended a Hillary Clinton rally in a locale that was largely white. One of Clinton's aides picked the friend and her other African American companion out of a crowd right before the event and had them come sit on the stage to, well, add color to the scene so to speak.