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4 pages/≈1100 words
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Chicago
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Communications & Media
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English (U.S.)
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Media Representation of Specific Social Injustice (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

write n essay answering the question "How do media representations of the specific social justice movement you've chosen reinforce and/or resist historical hegemonic narratives and ideologies?"
The sample is about how much change there has been in media representation of social injustices and how social injustices are now the concern of individuals and not by the government.

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How the Media Representation of Environmental Justice Movement Reinforce and Resist Hegemonic Narratives and Ideologies
First termed as environmental racism, environmental justice “focused on the unequal distribution, both social and spatial, of environmental burdens” CITATION Ale15 \l 13321 (Perez). Since the movement gained national attention in 1982, the narrative has always been the same – poor, rural communities of color are suffering “disproportionate negative impacts from the siting and construction of hazardous waste landfills within them” CITATION Ren16 \l 13321 (Skelton). And the tactics to success has remained the same – “naming and shaming of companies and governments” CITATION Pro15 \l 13321 (Project for Improved Environmental Coverage).
Consider this: Since 1987, the proof of environmental racism was already known with the publication of Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States CITATION Uni87 \l 13321 (United Church of Christ Commission on Racial Justice) but it was only in 1990 when the movement gained allies among the traditional, primarily white environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club. Sierra Club was already an institution in 1982 “protecting wilderness, endangered species, clean air, and clean water” CITATION Ren16 \l 13321 (Skelton), but it was in no way involved with the struggle of people of color, and the leaders of the environmental justice movement (EJM) were quick to point this out. In a widely publicized letter by individuals from different backgrounds, “artists, writers, academics, students, activists, representative of churches, unions and community organizations”, the “Big 10” environmental groups were called out for being instrumental in the disruption of the communities of color. The letter CITATION Sou90 \l 13321 (Southwest Organizing Project) said: “
There is a clear lack of accountability by the Group of Ten environmental organizations towards Third World communities in the Southwest, in the United States as a whole, and internationally. Your organizations continue to support and promote policies which emphasize the clean-up and preservation of the environment on the backs of working people in general and people of color in particular. In the name of eliminating environmental hazards at any cost, across the country industrial and other economic activities which employ us are being shut down, curtailed or prevented while our survival needs and cultures are ignored. We suffer from the end results of these actions, but are never full participants in the decision-making which leads to them...
The SWOP letter capitalized on the discrimination of people of color in employment, and political decision making, in order to move environmental organizations – those who already have prevailing missions into action. The Big 10 began hiring skilled individuals who are part of the communities they are campaigning for, hence allowing their programs to have greater accountability and impact. With the support of the Big 10, the Office of Environmental Equity of the US EPA was soon established, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit was held and the Executive Order 12898 was signed. Today, the movement is thriving, as evidenced by the increased number of registered environmental justice organizations (REJOs) in recent years CITATION Ale15 \l 13321 (Perez).
While it is true that the EJM has gained worldwide attention, it still has a long way to go CITATION Cha14 \l 13321 (Chameides) before equality of environmental burden is achieved. The pre-existing conditions remain the same. For example, a study of air quality data from 2005 to 2007 has this to say: “non-Hispanic blacks in the United States suffer worse air quality across multiple metrics, geographic scales, and multiple pollution metrics… it also appears that environmental justice concerns are more prominent along race/ethnicity lines, rather than measures of poverty” CITATION Mir11 \l 13321 (Miranda). Dirty, coal-fired power plants are still being located in poor, non-white communities, and higher incidents of drinking water and lead poisoning is still prevalent in poorer homes CITATION Cha14 \l 13321 (Chameides). And yet, none of these issues are being covered by the media, as visibility of environmental justice in media is dropping CITATION Pro15 \l 13321 (Project for Improved Environmental Coverage).
The good news is that the EJM has moved on from campaigning for the benefit of the African-Americans to cover issues arising from other races such as that of the Hispanics, American-Indians, etc. The issue at Standing Rock in North Dakota has uncovered the violence used by the government to suppress dissent among the peaceful communities of the Native Americans, as well as the centuries-old disrespect for their culture. A quick search on the keywords “media coverage of standing rock” will reveal that the method of shaming and naming is still prevalent, but there is an additional dimension: the highlight on the failure of mainstream media to cover the protests accurately.
“How media did and did not report on Standing Rock: Native American issues are only media sexy when natives with painted faces and horses are around” CITATION Aht16 \l 13321 (Ahtone), “Injustice at Standing Rock” CITATION Tap16 \l 13321 (Tapahe), “Journalist Amy Goodman says covering Standing Rock has been ‘chilling’”CITATION Kin \l 13321 (King). From these headlines alone, one may say that the issue of environmental justice has evolved. From concerns about race, it has also become issues of culture and the way our society is organized. Current media coverage of environmental justice issues have served to explain why injustices happen, and why it continues to proliferate. It no longer just talks about how our current mindsets about people and the economy are preventing us from experiencing the “bliss” that the simple-living communities are experiencing. Media coverage on the ...
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