Media Influence and Racial Bias
An Assessment of the Extent To Which Stereotypes Obstruct a Dialogue That Could Help Improve Baltimore Minority Neighbourhoods
Master's Thesis 2016 53 Pages
Can Dialogue improve poor housing in Minority Neighbourhoods?
Baltimore Housing Realities and its History
Minority Stereotypes, Media influence and Public Opinion
The Criminal Stereotype
Media in Correlation to Poor Housing
Habermas Dialogue as a Resolution to Poor Housing
Figures and Appendices
The research explored the realities of those who live within some of Maryland’s poorest neighbourhoods in West Baltimore. The study analysed the correlation between media bias and poor housing and how the stereotypes by the media have obstructed dialogue. The research analyzes Habermas’ dialogue and how it could possibly be useful to bring about change in West Baltimore. There are plenty of benefits for the West Baltimore area, using this approach. Content analysis was an appropriate route used for the methodology as it looked at several different variables of media to prove media bias and stereotypes. By looking through various empirical studies, watching the news and reviewing online news articles, this research looks at the impact media stereotypes have on West Baltimore’s housing issues.
Content analysis also helps to see how American media perpetuates minorities on television, through written media and the radio as well. The dialogue aspect will look at the factors of how race tends to be a difficult topic to speak on in the first place.
Through my research, I believe there are theoretical propositions that media stereotypes are the cause of the obstruction of dialogue to improve poor housing. Feminist and critical race theory were used to tackle this subject that deals with poor minorities. Through genuine conversations and an earnest want for change, dialogue can influence a great deal of the population of Baltimore. This dissertation will add onto the limited literature of this topic and bring about a different perspective of how to undertake media bias and its influence on the public and the outcomes it has on housing issues. The research found that there was a correlation between media bias and stereotypes and the reasoning there is still poor housing and an array of issues, in minority neighbourhoods. Discrimination from an historical aspect as well as in the workforce and several other areas are linked to poor housing and segregation in West Baltimore.
The research looks at the history of Baltimore to develop the context behind the poor housing. Then looks at the main stereotypes of African American and other minorities and moves onto what the media displays and the comparisons to reality and actual facts. This research concludes that through constant dialogue and the removal of bias in media, the promotion of diversity can help to improve Baltimore’s poor housing crisis.
I would like to thank God for allowing me to get into graduate school and for the opportunity to speak on behalf of those who do not have the chance to resolve ongoing issues within their communities. To my parents; Wayne and Lavern Taylor for the encouragement; all friends and family for the love and support. To my supervisor: Erika Cudworth, for the inspiration and suggestions.
After spending time in the city of Baltimore, I began to see a significant difference in housing appearance in the West side of Baltimore in comparison to other areas, specifically White Marsh, Towson and Baltimore Harbour. The latter areas have fewer minority residents and more residents that are white. In order to relieve this issue, it has been the assumption that gentrification could be of something positive to poor neighbourhoods. (Byrne, 2003: 406) Meaning that gentrification is seen as something where improvements can be made economically to a neighbourhood. This has unfortunately not been the case as of yet. While some improvements take place, it is often after residents that were already living there were displaced. (Maurrasse, Bliss, 2006:131) Often, the conditions of homes are based on where a resident resides and their life and health expectancies are based on this as well (Ross et al., 2016:1). Not only does housing affect the health of these residents, but also they are often more exposed to environmental hazards, poor schooling and neighbourhood violence. (Pacione, 2003:19) It is said that disadvantaged neighbourhoods with poor housing do not often The world health organization says that poor housing has a direct effect on residents health. (Dora, 2010: 1)
Unfortunately minorities, such as African Americans are nine times more likely to live in poor housing communities than White Americans. (Ross et al., 2016:1) This thesis will consider media bias and its effects on public opinion. Some feel that there are not any biases in traditional news, but that can be argued and will be explained further in this research. Western media, specifically in America, often gives a distorted portrayal of minorities. (Oliver, 2003:3) This dissertation will compare media biases and poor housing issues within neighbourhoods in Baltimore, Maryland. The public’s opinion of minorities, specifically African Americans on the reason why African Americans live in such poor housing conditions tends to be based on stereotypes alone. (Capatosto, et al., 2016: 4) It is believed that African Americans do not want to work, they are constantly committing crime, and they have too many children and do not want to better themselves. (Oliver, 2003:3) The point of this research is to enlighten the public that these stereotypes are not true. It is my belief and what this paper will focus on, is that the stereotypes stem from media portrayal. Many Americans spend a sizeable amount of time on social media, listening to the radio and watching television. Much of their information they receive is from such outlets. The research will explain how much the media lends a hand to the bias that Americans develop and stereotypes created (Capatosto, et al., 2016: 14) and why dialogue is necessary to change the structure in poor minority neighbourhoods.
Further explained in the methodology section will be, how content analysis was used to prove this. This has been further researched by Chomsky and was also touched on in this paper. It is the belief, that dialogue could actually be beneficial to those within the Baltimore area.
Can Dialogue improve poor housing in Minority Neighbourhoods?
Essentially, the research will analyse Habermas’ dialogue. Habermas’ dialogue or an “ideal speech situation” could possibly be of help to poor neighbourhoods. It will provide some context of how to possibly approach dialogue and if Habermas’ dialogue would be best for this discussion. Dialogue can allow social inequalities to be engaged further into international relations. While this is a research paper that will not fully analyse or be a case study for Habermas’ dialogue, it will look at some aspects as suggestions to better Baltimore’s poor neighbourhoods. It will also look at how the media, due to bias and stereotypes have taken away from the dialogue that Habermas describes for international relations. In Research Concerns, Cautions and Considerations on Black Males in a ‘Post Racial’ Society, Tyrone Howard (2011) critiques and analyses various authors who believe that we do in fact exist in a post racial society still. (Howard, et al., 2011:105) The purpose of this research is to also to dismantle that idea as well.
This is worth knowing because it sheds light on inequality and a chance to move away from stereotypes. Through structured interviews and spending a great deal of time in Baltimore, this research has found valid conclusions by research, interviews and historical details. I am addressing this and have chosen this location because Baltimore is a major city in America with a majority of minority citizens. In America, areas where there are majority minority and poor citizens, tend to have mainly low-income residents, or have issues that are left alone for years without proper representation and discussion. “The data are telling in cities like Baltimore, where 63.1 percent of the population is black. Baltimore currently has three times the national rate of lead poisoning among children.” (Sosa, 2015:1)
Dialogue can bring about a sense of real democracy in Baltimore between the residents and city officials. This helps so that city officials are making laws and changes that actually do make significant difference and are not just changes that are of benefit to one part of the community. The perplexities of race relations, poverty and housing are never an easy topic to discuss. This research is undertaken with the hope that stereotypes could at least become limited and refrained from as much as possible in the media, to allow policy makers and residents from all parts of Baltimore, that are willing, to engage in constructive dialogue. One must acknowledge the ongoing disparities and understand racial discrimination in housing and the economy. One must also acknowledge the racial disparities that occur throughout the media.
In order to gain an understanding of the research topic, it is important to clarify a few key terms. It seems that there is an insignificant amount of information on this topic; thus, the information provided will give a proper background on this research. These definitions outline some of the reasoning behind poor housing.
Gentrification is a term that describes areas that are not essentially developed. It begins with wealthier people moving into urban districts.
The term is used to describe supposed areas that were not quite developed. With that, the task was to reconstruct and cleanse out those areas. When those who had a great deal of money and could invest in homes, the neighbourhood started to upgrade. The process leads to those who cannot afford affluent homes to be evicted. Eventually, their homes somehow became extremely expensive and the residents can no longer afford it.” (Grant, 2003: p.1)
Instead of helping those who already lived in poor housing in West Baltimore, many had to move, or their areas would remain boarded up and have not been renovated for years. Gentrification has just further allowed the cycle to continue. If many continue to focus on stereotypes and discriminate against minority groups in such neighbourhoods, there will continue to be no room to develop positive dialogue between minority residents, government officials and non-minorities.
Gentrification is seen as a positive change to many. (Byrne, 2003:411) In actuality, gentrification in minority neighbourhoods deters from issues instead o actually solving them. Instead of displacing residents, I will look into the aspect of better housing plans for residents. Through researching, I have found that in Gaithersburg Maryland, the city council there has established a decent solution. It requires affordable housing in each development and hosts a housing fair so that residents receive guidance. (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2011)
Along with media bias, a focus of this project will be will be on stereotypes, which are usually formed by the media. These stereotypes carry a heavy weight on the opinions people tend to have on others. Many of the stereotypes of African Americans stem from the Jim Crow era. (Green, 1999:1) Many were created to degrade African Americans and had a large influence in forging Jim Crow policy. As stated above, the history of poor housing will be looked at and Jim Crow laws have a major part of this. Jim Crow policies influenced housing discriminatory laws in the 1960s and 1970s. (Leeuw, 2007:4)
“As noted, New Deal policies reinforced racial and gender exclusions and enabled millions of white Americans to become middle class and amass wealth at the expense of black Americans. The racial rules around housing and homeownership, the primary asset-building policies of the 20th century, were especially big contributors to the racial wealth gap.” (Flynn, et al., 2016:19)
The research will mainly focus on stereotypes from the perspective of those who are white middle class Americans. Stereotypes in this research will be stereotypes of mostly African Americans, with some aspect on other minorities. In the context of poor neighbourhoods, such stereotypes include African Americans who are on welfare, perceived as lazy and violent.
“Stereotypes are commonly defined as cognitive structures that contain the perceiver’s knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about human groups. As such, stereotypes are, in Walter Lippmann’s classic phrase, pictures in the head, which, like any other kind of cognitive generalization, tend to put their imprint on data in the very process of acquiring it.” (Peffley, 1997:30)
African Americans make up a large percentage of residents in the Baltimore area. For this reason, African Americans will be focused on more intently in this research. African Americans will not be the only minorities considered, but other groups as well. These terms will be used interchangeably. Though African Americans are the primary focus in this research, they are also considered people of colour and minorities as well in America. There will also be information regarding other minorities and people of colour, just for data purposes when looking at media stereotypes. African Americans are also largely focused in this research due to the recent attention on police violence, especially in Baltimore, Maryland where a resident of West Baltimore, by the name of Freddie Gray was shot and killed. (Woods, 2016:1) This brought a heightened amount of media attention and while it was the belief that this attention would be good to shed light on the help that West Baltimore needed, it furthered the stereotypes and media bias along and Baltimore gained even more negative media attention. What takes place in Baltimore, Maryland specifically affects African Americans more so than other minorities. Also, the account of Jim Crow laws, which will be touched on in this dissertation were laws created for African Americans. The reason being for using the term minority or people of colour is due to the fact that African Americans are referred to as people as colour, and well as the fact that they are a minority group. Racial stereotypes and bias portrayed in the media is the reason for the demise of poor housing in Baltimore, Maryland has continued and instead, gentrification has been placed as viable solution. There are ongoing inequalities faced by residents of West Baltimore. There respectively seems not to be enough literature out there that places the two ideas together. “Many feel the reason for the demise of minority neighbourhoods are due to the idea that minorities are being lazy and do not want to help themselves. They feel that there is too much crime.” (Gilens, 515: 1996) This is my main point of concern for my research. Where does the idea that all minorities are lazy or do not want to help themselves come from? It seems that there must be an influence for those thoughts to have arrived as conclusions. Gentrifying does not necessarily negate housing issues. It displaces those who are poor, and pushes them to outer neighbourhoods where the same issues ensue. (Palen, 1984:5) Rather than dealing with the issue at hand, those involved with housing policies choose to go around it. It could be of benefit for the community and government representatives to have more neighbourhood discussions in order to devise better plans. If blame is constantly placed on poor residents who do not actually have the power to make significant changes, nothing will ever change. I will also look into how dialogue from the perspective of Habermas could relieve issues of gentrification and poor housing.
This research proposal seeks to examine the correlation between media’s influence of racial bias and stereotypes that digress from dialogue that would improve minority neighbourhoods. Firstly, the structure of the project will be outlined in order to understand the context. This research will include an introduction, three analytical chapters, methodology, data analysis and discussion as well as a conclusion. The first chapter will explain some of the history of poor housing and the legality issues with public housing and renovations. The second chapter will discuss in depth the issue of media bias and stereotypes. It will give detail as to why traditional media can be problematic in viewer opinion. Another chapter this research will touch on is why gentrifying neighbourhoods are not a viable solution to improving poor neighbourhoods. This research is focused on understanding the structures and forces that allow for current housing discriminations and poor housing in Baltimore. It argues that because of the structures that have been building up throughout history, much have the media bias and stereotypes have been overlooked because they are unconsciously approved of. Individuals believe that the outcomes of the current conditions of West Baltimore are because people have not taken responsibility for their actions.
This research is being undertaken to fight racial stereotypes in hopes of bettering poor neighbourhoods in Baltimore. It is to showcase the racial inequalities that still prevail today and are believed to be something that stopped occurring after the 1960s civil rights era. It is the belief that America is now in a post racial society, but this research proves this is not true. To believe that is true means, one ignores obvious inequalities and chooses not to be willing to change. It is also, to bring forth the notion that there are real environmental issues in these neighbourhoods that are being left alone.
This research used the content analysis approach in order to view what the media considers as breaking news; vital information. The content analysis approach allowed for this research to seek out biases in news report and how often certain information was presented.
Qualitative research methods have been used for many years by social scientists. It allows the researcher to gain an in depth view of the group it intends to study. This would probably suit best rather than quantitative, because one is able to gain better insight. The research is not just about numbers, but gaining somewhat personal data that could be applied to a bigger study. (Quantity and Quality in Social Research, 1988:20) A significant reason a qualitative approach will be used is to gain research on existing assumptions. As this focuses on stereotypes, was a feasible approach. (Flick, 2014: 350) The quantitative aspect will look at statistics such as, the poverty rate, income and the number of those living within the house. It will look at data such as if the family uses American government funds such as welfare. Another reason for quantitative to be used as well, is that Baltimore is a major city in Maryland and quantitative deals with large numbers of people to be representative of a wider population. (Quantity and Quality in Social Research: 1988) Also secondary sources will be used as well, in the end, a mix-method would suit best. (Creswell, 2003)
The feminist critique was a great way to approach the research that was done because it took into account those who are vulnerable residents. For the research I will be providing, structured observation would not be the best approach. In this case, I need information on health and education data. (Reinharz, 1992) Using theories will help with research and using explanations of specific events could help focus on theory. They are written much like theories and can provide more information for the writer. (Bryman, 2001:40) A good theory allows the reader to know about the causes that led to the theory. It has detailed information as well. (Evera, 1997:25)
Another key method used in this research was bibliographical trails. This will help to find sources that were used by those who have written content similar to my research. Looking through the works cited will help to get valuable information as well. (Booth, et al., 1995: 80) This was significant to the research, it allowed to critical analysation of work done in this past on this topic. It led to more information being found, then originally believed to be. Though the information on this topic is still limited in regards to Baltimore, Maryland, media bias seems to be well researched.
Critical Race Theory will be vital to the research because the context is focused on racial and social structure. It breaks down white supremacy and will connect with the aspect of racial bias and media stereotypes. (Parker, et al., 1999: 299) Critical race theory is very important as well for the fact that the approach seeks to signify how minorities are misinterpreted and devalued. While Critical Race Theory is often used in the educational platform, it can be applied for this specific area because the same issues apply in the media and then on into poor housing realities for minorities.
Baltimore Housing Realities and its History
The chapter will include the historical aspects of poor housing in Baltimore and other factors that play into no dialogue being able to be formed. If one were to take a trip through the west side of Baltimore, Maryland, they would recognize the vast difference of housing appearance, in comparison to other parts of Maryland. For instance, in Montgomery County, Maryland, one would see that the houses tend to be newer, larger and more so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Poor housing in Baltimore has been an ongoing issue since the 1960s.“Between the years of 1950 and 1995, the city, which used to be a hub for the steel industry lost more than100,000 manufacturing jobs.” (Gray, 2015:1) ThinkProgress reports that overall Baltimore has an 8.4 percent unemployment rate, but that the number is even higher for Black males.”(Gray, 2015:1) More attention should be brought to the fact that so many jobs were lost by Baltimore residents, pushing many over into poverty.
In an article, Separate but Equal pertaining to gentrification in Washington, D.C., (Delvon, 2015: p.1) it spoke on residents facing discrimination based on their zip code alone. This article is also valuable to the research I will be conducting due to Washington D.C.’s close proximity to Baltimore and the fact that the area is also predominately black as well. The article helps to give an example that racial stereotypes and media bias does tie into minorities not receiving the help necessary. “Within a week I was getting callbacks,” said Matthews, who later left Training Grounds in part due to her frustrations. It was an eye opener. People were looking at the zip code and not calling back for basic entry-level positions based on the part of the city we lived in.” (Delvon, 2015: p.1) There seems to be a gap in the knowledge of media bias, racial stereotypes and poor housing issues. After doing an immense amount of research on gentrification in Washington, D.C., it came to my attention the lack of connection between these three aspects. It seemed that gentrification always seemed to be the best solution without looking to factual historical data.
Community Development by Deliah D. Lawrence touches on gentrification and white flight. (Lawrence, 2014) While the research done is good, it is more from an historical standpoint. It in my opinion does not go further into why communities are still arriving at the same solution every time. The research excels in explaining what took place during the 60s and 70s as an economic shift began. This led to minorities having to look to public housing. It should reference more recent information as well. This would help to shed light that the issue still stands, though it seems to be something of the past. While I agree that white flight is a major reason for poor and minority issues today, it is beneficial to connect that with today’s issues. The main reasoning for my research is to fill in that gap. The gap that leaves out how white flight happened forty plus years ago, yet it is difficult for many to still find proper housing and have their environmental issues dealt with. This literature is helpful in the fact that it will help to give the background information on gentrification and white flight that is necessary to this research. My approach will basically be to take this literature one step further
As far back as 1910, there were policies in place that segregated white and black residents in Baltimore. (Kellogg, 2015:10) In the late 1950s, Baltimore eventually became a place for many blacks to flee the south and Jim Crow as well. Moving to Baltimore meant better jobs and somewhere to raise a family.Baltimore seemed to like a safe haven for many blacks, because it was a major city in the north. It was the belief that the North had a major decline in racism. (Kellogg, 2015:11) While in comparison to the south this was true, there were still strong hints of segregation taking place in the north. Many African-Americans sought comfort in the idea of what the North might be like. Baltimore at the time was flourishing with job opportunities thanks to the mills and factories. (Chidester, 2003:10)
With immigration happening, and more people coming in from the North, Baltimore’s demographic was beginning to change.Before 1900, there were no African American neighborhoods in Baltimore. Into the late nineties, specifically around 1997, Baltimore became two-thirds black. (Polese, 2000:126)
Between 1954 and 1995 the regional manufacturing in the city went from 75 to 30 percent. (Polese, 2000, 127) In order to diverge white residents away, real estate agents would play up on the fear that black residents were moving in. Real estate agents also made offers to white residents who wanted to move, so that they could buy and then rent out the homes to black tenants. Racial anxieties came into play as well as suburbanization, which were caused by the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration. (Goldfield, 2006:336) There was interpersonal racism taking place, which means that one makes assumption of someone according to his or her race alone. “Between 1950 and 1970 the city’s black population almost doubled, growing by 195,000. Concomitantly, massive numbers of white Baltimoreans began an exodus to the suburbs.”(Polese, 2000:126)
Gaining an understanding of the economic history of Baltimore, allowed this research to give valuable information. In order to understand the issues that prevail today, historical matter was important to dwell on. A Brief Economic History of Baltimore gave great insight on the reason behind Baltimore’s economic downfall, which is in hindsight to poor housing. In order to illustrate current racial discrimination in housing, one must understand the extent of Jim Crow and Baltimore communities’ history.
Currently, black neighborhoods are mainly confined in the west area of Baltimore. Before the 1990s, black neighborhoods were mainly northeast and northwest of downtown. After some time, the neighborhoods began to change. Where areas that were white neighborhoods once before, overtime became black neighborhoods. This change brought upon fear to white affluent residents within the neighborhoods. (Quillian, 2001:730) On the other hand, in the upper counties within Maryland, such as Montgomery County, there are some racially diverse neighborhoods. Gaithersburg, Maryland; considered the most racially diverse city in America, has 58.2% whites, 14.6% blacks, 19.8% Hispanics and 8.6% other race. (Gaithersburg, 2010:1) While the city is more racially diverse than others, it is still an area with a higher percentage of whites.
At one point in time, the city of Baltimore was filled with majority white residents rather than blacks. There were plentiful jobs as there were many factories with manufacturing jobs. Near the 1950s, there began to be a decline in white residents. From 1950 to 2000, one-third of the population had left. Since many of the factories went out of business, the workers of course left as well. Baltimore was no longer the strongest economic city in Maryland.
“The City’s share of the region’s manufacturing employment had dropped from 75% in 1954 to 30% in 1995, while its share of the region’s retail sales fell from 50% to 18% in 1992.” (Turner, 2004:5)
Baltimore also used to have the largest population in Maryland. “By the end of the century, Baltimore contained only a quarter of the region’s total population.” (Polese, 1997:126) Many of the changes made in Baltimore that were positive, were beneficial to those who were privileged. So while jobs did leave Baltimore at this point and time, the ethnic group that took the largest hit from this were Black residents. Without good jobs, families struggle to pay rent and often evicted. Furthermore, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City was able to runtwo housing programs, one program that was African-American and one that was Caucasian. (Gladora, 2006:1) From 1937 to 1943, the government built public housing that was segregated. The way that the housing was set up then, has continued until today and the neighborhoods are still mainly segregated. “The federal government even went so faras to admit that its purpose was actually not slum clearance but ratherusing the projects to block the Negro from encroaching upon whiteterritory.”(Gladora, 2006:1)
After the Second World War, Baltimore still held on to its segregationist programs. There were high rises built as well and in 1950 the City Council restricted where African Americans resided.Places that had vacant land were available for whites only. (Gladora, 2006:2)
Overall, the historic policies and actions that took place in Baltimore, have led to many segregated Baltimore neighbourhoods today. Residents of course had families in these areas and this sense of segregation remained in Baltimore. There have been efforts to make neighbourhoods integregated, but it will take years to do so.
Minority Stereotypes, Media influence and Public Opinion
This chapter focuses on stereotypes by public opinion and media, to garner how the stereotypes are formed and compare the stereotypes to the facts. The biases can be extremely strong and leads many to automatically assume a suspect is African American, despite that not being the case. What this does is limit empathy and people begin to have a hostile view of African Americans. (Robinson, 2015:4) Which in removes the chance of having meaningful dialogue. Essentially this chapter is to examine where many of the stereotypes derive from. In the analysis and discussion chapters, there will be dialogue on how to combat these stereotypes and how exactly media can make effective changes. The previous chapter outlined on the beginning stages of Baltimore’s poor housing, and how many white residents left their neighbourhoods’ because of the knowledge of black residents moving in as well. (Quillian, 2001: 726) This chapter will help to connect the idea of media stereotypes and poor housing. Some of the stereotypes described in this chapter will be about the idea of African Americans and Hispanic Americans being described as “thugs”. This chapter will also consider why many African Americans cannot find better housing, if they have a problem with where they live now. “Notions that black Americans in particular are lazy or government cheats have been used strategically for decades as ‘dog whistles,’ allowing politicians to communicate to whites in racially coded language in order to win elections.” (Flynn et al., 2016:12) These are the stereotypes that need to be dismantled in order to diversify and improve poor housing conditions and would need to be changed within media. Some argue that African Americans are afforded handouts and allow a lazy part of the community benefits they do not deserve. (Ohanian, 2014:1) People have looked beyond discrimination and laws that have been set in stone institutionally (Flynn et al., 2016:11) and has prevented bettering minority neighbourhoods.
Media bias and racial stereotypes, it leads to some African Americans not obtaining jobs, which in turn means they remain in poor housing conditions. Again, jobs are sometimes not available to residents because of their zip code alone. Based on where someone lives, they are not able to get jobs; this could be due to their area being associated with crime and poverty, once again influenced by racial stereotypes. (Phillips, 2015:3) (Ross, 2013:1) Many also, suffer from not gaining employment because they are discriminated against, thus leading them to either remain in poor housing or be forced to become homeless. Recent research has shown that resegregation has occurred in the workforce. (Washington Post, 2016:1) There is a cycle of deprivation occurring due to discrimination in jobs and then possibly becoming homeless. What are easily accessible necessities to some are not afforded to others through this cycle.
Discrimination is a usual occurrence in the workplace and it usually takes place due to bias and stereotypes. (Pager et al., 2008:110) If job applicants are rejected without any consideration of their qualifications, they are not able to get the jobs necessary to live in neighbourhoods that do not have poor housing. Having said that, city and government officials have not taken that into consideration, rather than the stereotypes that they rely on to make changes in such neighbourhoods. If they are not able to get jobs or jobs that pay well, this means the housing conditions they currently reside, are where they have to remain. The housing that is available meets their income needs and allows them a place to live.
The Criminal Stereotype
While the media showcases black men as being more violent and often sent to prison, more often than their white counterparts, data shows otherwise. (Farbota, 2015:1) “In every year from 1980 to 2007, blacks were arrested at a rate relative to population that were 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than white arrest rates.” (Fellner, 2009:1) This plays into the aspect of dialogue being obstructed that could improve minority neighborhoods in Baltimore. If a community is trying to better themselves and it is believed that the majority are criminals, people will not be as willing to help. (Quillian, 2001:721) Some people wish to ignore the many struggles that African Americans have to avail and the same applies to the court system and poor housing. (Angelo, 2011:55) There has been a propensity to be some ignorance on racial issues between ethnic groups and this barrier needs to be broken in order to move forward. (Angelo, 2011:58)
“Our implicit biases are the result of mental associations that have formed by the direct and indirect messaging we receive, often about different groups of people. When we are constantly exposed to certain identity groups being paired with certain characteristics, we begin to automatically and unconsciously associate the identity with the characteristics, whether or not that association aligns with reality.” (Capatosto: 2016:14)
Racial bias plays a prominent role in disparities as well. African Americans and Hispanics tend to grow up in low-income neighborhoods. Police usually racially profiles these two minority groups near their neighborhoods. There is a stigma of low-income neighborhoods; in that, they are assumed to be full of crime. (Jackson, 1997:5) New Coverage depicting Black Americans presents an altogether more unfavourable picture, both on an absolute and comparative basis. Although Black and Whites appear with relatively equal frequency in news stories unrelated to crime, Black Americans are seen at nearly twice the rate as Whites when the topic is crime.” (Bryant, et at., 2009)
This stereotype of African Americans as having criminal and violent backgrounds is one of the most influential stereotypes. (Quillian et al, 2001:721) Minorities are often faced with harsher punishments or even treated harshly by counterparts, more so than their white peers. Unfortunately, which again can be eluded to the stereotypes displayed on television, this happens quite often. This even takes place within the school system, allowing the cycle to take place early on.
“Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today. (“Kerby, 2012:1)
Many people have limited opportunities, and neighborhoods suffer when irrational judgments are made to arrest people based on the color of their skin alone. This creates a harsher attitude towards people of color and lessens their chances of having a prosperous neighborhood. When these arrests are made, they are then reported by the media immediately and shown on a cycle. Even after Martin Luther Kings’ most popular speech in 1968, that paved the way for systematic changes, today, African Americans still face discrimination. African Americans have not been given the same equal opportunities in court. To get an understanding of the criminal stereotype, this section will focus on racial stereotyping on crimes and how this makes a major impact on housing choices.
“We attribute this racial variation in the effect of incarceration to the high degree of racial neighborhood inequality in the United States: because white offenders generally come from much better neighborhoods, they have much more to lose from a prison spell.” (Massoglia, 2002:42.)
There are countless cases where minorities end up in prison, due to racial profiling. This makes renting or owning a home very difficult for African Americans as these racial stereotypes come into play. Areas with many young black men usually is linked to criminality. (Quillian et al, 2001: 724)
Many Whites can commit the same crimes as minorities and still not suffer the same consequences as minorities. Sentences for African American males tend to be twenty percent longer than White males. (American Civil Liberties Union, 2014:1) “Although each group experienced a considerable increased in the number of young federal prisoners, the increase for blacks was comparably much higher.” (Hurwitz, 2005: 783) Blacks are often more heavily policed than their white counterparts in their neighbourhoods as well. (Farbota, 2015:1) There are also variables such as; education, job opportunities and systemic racism that play a huge role in this factor.
Example: Whites smoke marijuana at the same rate as blacks, yet blacks are getting arrested more. (Farbota, 2015:1) It is also a perception given in media that blacks are the ones that commit this crime more often than whites.
Racial profiling plays a chief role in minority disparities that then move over to the media and town hall discussions in Baltimore. African Americans can simply walk around and will be stopped just for being black. Research has been done to show that despite the race, inmates were very similar in regards to their personality. “Outside of prison, black males lost at least twice as many years of life as white males.” (Patterson, 2010:108) The stereotypes that black men are criminals can also be derived from this fact. Here a cycle is also developed because black men are placed in jail more often then whites and are usually discriminated against in their sentencing.
“We attribute this racial variation in the effect of incarceration to the high degree of racial neighborhood inequality in the United States: because white offenders generally come from much better neighborhoods, they have much more to lose from a prison spell.” (Michael Massoglia, 2002, 142.)
Casey Kellogg gives research on the correlation between gentrification and incarceration. (Kellogg, 2015: 8) With gentrification and not many mental health facilities nearby urban Baltimore neighbourhoods, people unfortunately became homeless and crime increased. (Kellogg, 2015: 10)
African Americans and Hispanics tend to grow up in low-income neighborhoods. Police usually racially profiles these two minority groups in their areas. The stigma is that low-income neighborhoods are full of crime. The prominent differences among these groups were found in the area of background personal and socioeconomic characteristic. The lower incomes, less frequent full-time employment, and more frequent reports of illegal sources of income for the Black group was consistent with recent studies on socioeconomic status and contact with the criminal justice system. (Turner et al., 2013:1) Whites are move favored than blacks that are also well qualified for housing. (Turner et al, 2013: 1)
Minorities are often faced with harsher punishments or even treated harshly by counterparts, more so than their white peers. (Capatosto, 2015:20) Unfortunately, which again can be attributed to the stereotypes displayed on television, this happens quite often. This even takes place within the school system, allowing the cycle to take place early on. “Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today. (Kerby, 2012:1) Many people have limited opportunities, and neighborhoods suffer when irrational judgments are made to arrest people based on the color of their skin alone. “We need people to understand that racial profiling is illegal and its bad police work.” (Stolberg, 2015:1) This creates a harsher attitude towards people of color and lessens their chances of having a prosperous neighborhood. When these arrests are made, they are then reported by the media immediately and shown on a cycle.
This suggests that racial bias plays a major role in housing disparities. It is assumed that those who live in better quality homes cannot commit the same crimes as those from low-income communities. Real estate agents are less likely to sell homes to African Americans as they would to White Americans. After being turned down in neighborhoods that are well developed, many African Americans have to move into areas that are not as developed. (Paget et al., 2008:3) Real Estate agents and landlords in these areas are more likely to allow African Americans to stay in such neighborhoods, as in ones that are not as well developed. (Pager et al., 2008:3)
Minorities seemed to be unconsciously marked with the stigma of a criminal. There are a higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in prison for sometimes not even committing any crime, in comparison to whites that actually do. (Howard, Flennaugh, 2011:10) This aspect tends to be shown inaccurately very often in the media. The media does something similar to what takes place to the justice system. But this begs the question if the racial profiling that takes place is stemmed from the media itself as well. This will be looked at further in the data and analysis chapters.
The author of, Black Neighbors, Higher Crime? The Role of Racial Stereotypes in Evaluations of Neighborhood Crime, (2001) found significant research that racial notions has a strong effect on discernment in regards to neighbourhood crime. If this is the case, once again, this begs to the question of where does the perception delve from and why does this happen so often? This article was also very telling, because it explains that much of the information on this topic is scarce and dated. Some data found were posted from the late 1970s. This is a major problem because it then allows many to believe that this issue no longer takes place in present time. It is almost an afterthought. Those who bring up racial correlations to housing issues are often seen as problematic and brushed off, because the idea seems as though it is irrational. The article starts off with three vital questions. It gives a good backbone to the argument of this research and touches on aspects that are missed in various articles on the subject. The research took tests under several alternative specifications and looked at variables like housing upkeep and appearance in Baltimore.
The theory was mainly that if there were a large percentage of young black men, the perception would be that those men are involved in crime. The research did not find any contradictions to this theory. It also proved to be more than true. The research included, found that whites are less likely to make contact with Blacks thanks to their association of blacks with crime. “Whites may be systematically overestimating the association between race and crime.”(Quillan, 2001:721)
This usually leads to whites wanting to leave neighbourhoods where they feel that blacks may be involved with crime or not even move into such neighbourhoods. (Quillian, 2001: 720) When fewer whites are in a city or neighbourhoods, this means fewer jobs in the surrounding area and businesses, as did happen to Baltimore starting from the 1960s. (Austin, 2011:3)
“Given that black neighborhoods, on average, have higher levels of crime than white neighborhoods, black and white residents may use different reference groups against which to judge the seriousness of their neighborhoods crime problem.” (Quillian, 2001:720) The problem here is that it does not take note of the percentages of crimes committed by whites. There are also variables such as; education, job opportunities and systemic racism that play a huge role in this factor.
As written in the Huffington Post (Farbota, 2015:1) article, that whites have an abstract perception and continue to correlate blacks with crime, how will any poor housing efforts ever be made? It was stated that just based off of housing upkeep alone whites associated that the neighbourhood must be filled with blacks that commit a high rate of crime. This is without verifying the reasoning behind the poor housing in the first place.
Carrying out social psychological research, the author pinpoints the many stereotypes of African Americans that lead to neighbourhood seclusion. The problem/thesis is that crime and the seclusion of blacks; by whites leaving neighbourhoods are in part, due to black Americans. Also, that many non-colour residents draw on the perception of crime rather than actual crime being committed. The main focus is that the stereotypes of blacks as criminals is well known and has not changed in recent years. The points made are outstanding in that it doesn’t make broad generalizations and makes relevant points. Some arguments included are that stereotypes are just plainly inaccurate and are influenced by motivational biases. Another argument is that “represent largely accurate representations of target group characteristics.” (McCauley, 1995)
The following section will look into statistics of negative media portrayal of minorities. With negative portrayal, this leads to no support in neighbourhoods in Baltimore, Maryland. The media gives unwarranted ideas of how minorities live their lives. (Peffley, 1997: 32) It is assumed that those who live in better quality homes cannot commit the same crimes as those from low-income communities. Real estate agents are less likely to sell homes to African Americans as they would to White Americans. After being turned down in neighborhoods that are well developed, many African Americans have to move into areas that are not as developed. Real Estate agents and landlords in these areas are more likely to allow African Americans to stay in such neighborhoods. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2012:1-5)
Media has a direct impact on public opinion and shape shifts our mentality. Catherine Happer and Greg Philo discuss the role of media in their article “The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change” (2013) The research provided is well researched and does not make any broad generalizations. It is very direct and straight to the point. It draws on the point that the media has a large influence on the public’s thoughts, not that the public cannot form their own opinion. It was done is to prove that the issues are beyond gentrification and cannot be resolved with only gentrifying neighbourhood’s. It is believed that the media’s influence has a major impact on public opinion, which falls in line with poor housing issues. Not only does the research look at the correlation between media bias and poor housing, but also the fact that these issues are not brought up nearly enough in national news.
It is also rare to hear popular politicians speak on such topics as well. As in, how they would improve such areas, discussions that could possibly take place, or even visiting areas just to get an idea of what it is like. To understand the media’s, influence on racial stereotypes and bias is completely important on not just a domestic scale, but internationally as well.
“Unfortunately, this means it’s often excluded from environmental talks like the Paris conference. Recognizing the highly disproportionate rate at which back families are affected by environmental hazards, policy intended to alleviate environmental hazards should be tailored specifically to communities of colour. Policymakers, governmental officials and stakeholders must be persuaded to recognize this.” (Sosa, 2015:1)
This is important to research further because I would like to figure out the reasoning behind these discussions not being brought forward in global dialogue. A major benefit of this literature is that it touches on the fact that minority issues are not much of a concern at major conferences. It is difficult to even get a large number of people to hear the complaints of residents in poor communities. In doing this research, it is the hope that other major cities with a large poor and minority community, can do find sufficient ways to improve.
Media in Correlation to Poor Housing
The information given by “Media Effects Advances in Theory and Research”, (2009) gives insight to why there possibly is still housing segregation. The literature gives direct statistics of minorities being portrayed in a negative light more so than their counterparts. The media often presents minorities being involved in crime in television and on regular news reports in America. “Social cognition can be best described as an orientation toward the cognitive processes that occur in social situations.” (Bryant, et al., 2009)
The data below gives clear indication of the misrepresentation of minorities on television:
“In terms of numeric representation on primetime TV, Black Americans and White Americans are the only racial/ethnic groups depicted at a rate exceeding their proportions of the U.S. population of approximately 12% and 69%, respectively.”(Bryant et al., 2009:326) Not only are African Americans stereotyped in the news, but also in media such as television shows and movies.
“As Entman argued, images of race and ethnicity on television not only have the potential to provide (mis)information about who racial/ethnic minorities are, but additionally offer evidence to corroborate misperceptions regarding why they should be viewed in a certain way.” (Bryant, et al., 2009:1)
As the American Press Institute has stated, that many Americans watch the news all throughout the day, they tend to pick up on these misperceptions. It is also troubling because these common misperceptions have been on television for decades, meaning older families develop firm views and this is conceded to younger generations. This therefore creates a cycle in negative portrayals of ethnic minorities.
“Alongside their overrepresentation as criminals on TV news, when compared with Whites, African Americans also are underrepresented as victims – but at a rate in proportion with real-world crime reports. (Bryant, et al., 2009:327)
The literature here assumes that by minorities being overrepresented in a negative light, it changes what is thought of them in reality. The question remains still how does this link to resolving actual issues in minority communities. What will it take to change or at least start a change for poor housing? The underrepresentation as victims leads to less empathy by their counterparts (Robinson, 2015:13) and not much dialogue for poor housing. When it is time discuss improvements in minority neighbourhoods, many already have preconceived notions on the behaviours of African Americans. There is this aura of fear in many American, but specifically Baltimore minority neighbourhoods’, that obstructs possible dialogue. The fear has been developed over many years and it would take quite some time to digress from it. The fears people developed are of course based off of stereotypes. (Hurwitz, Peffley, 1997:376) Other ethnic groups too, have committed the same crimes as African Americans. People begin to believe that the crimes that they have seen on television committed African Americans, are ones that all African Americans have committed. Many are quick to give false accusations on this ethnic group and not want to surround them with what they fear. (Hurwitz, Peffley, 1997:376)
There have been countless incidents of violation of the Fair Housing Act around the United States. Specifically, in Baltimore, there was a case that looked like it would change housing discrimination, but has not made a significant difference. (Pager et al., 2008:3) The case was anticipated to be a vast turning point for many. There are complaints of why such residents do not move to another area, but there is fear of the same incidents happening elsewhere. In many counties, there is not any support for those who leave inner cities. Thus putting the residents who had to move due to gentrification as homeless. Many were homeless, because after moving out and searching for homes to rent, they were faced with discrimination. The Department of Housing and Urban Development study, established that African Americans and Hispanic were offered fewer opportunities to view units and not a lot of financial assistance for homeowners. (Pager et al., 2008: 3) The subject of poor housing will continue to be an ongoing issue. NAACP’s legal website gives a great deal of information on racial inequality cases. It has touched on a very important case that took place in 2005. This case gives substantial information to housing segregation in Baltimore, Maryland. While my research is focused on the outcomes of housing segregation and gentrification, background information is necessary. Many have stated that there has never been any help to allow African Americans to live in integrated parts of Baltimore. The case was; Thompson v. U.S. State department of Housing and Urban Development was found guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act. The case was a historic moment in Baltimore History. The case is now eleven years old and it is difficult for many residents to grasp the idea that much change has been made since then. Several promises were made to ensure that housing policies would change. This research will use NAACPldf.org as a main source for poor housing legislation. (Thompson V. HUD: NAACP LDF, 2016)
At the same time, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City allowed hazardous conditions in housing developments. Families that certainly needed assistance were turned away.
“To put these numbers in perspective, the $35 million Baltimore's Housing Authority spent last year to improve its debt position is more than would be needed to house every homeless person in Baltimore for a year ($27 million-$30 million); or to move 3,000 families off the city'slong waiting list for rental assistance($33.7 million); and would cover most of the agency's 2014 expenditures for major repairs and rehab at the city's 49 public housing developments ($41 million).” (Carlo: 2016,1)
Baltimore’s housing authority had more than enough funds to help those who were homeless. Many are homeless based on discrimination, which is rarely acknowledged. This shows that a specific group is not getting treated equally just because of ethnicity or socioeconomic status. In America, the Fair Housing Act states that: “Prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, colour, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.” (Title VIII: Fair Housing And Equal Opportunity, 1989:1)
What basically takes place in the aspect of housing discrimination and gentrification is; high-income residents move into low-income neighborhoods, unavoidably placing mainly those who are poor, into other neighborhoods. Article 3 of the declaration of human rights: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.” (Title VIII: Fair Housing And Equal Opportunity, 1989)
Gentrification would not have to occur, if issues in minority neighbourhoods were dealt with before it became a major issue with no resolve in sight. The focal problem surrounding poor housing are that people and government officials, are not looking at the historical aspects and facts. Many tend to forget how residents were authorized to live in certain areas. There is a major issue of discrimination in housing in Baltimore. The ‘Indypendent’ wrote on how the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) took a stance in housing cases in Baltimore. It is said by The ACLU that federal housing officials actually engaged in racial discrimination and violated the constitution. In Baltimore, 63 percent of its’ residents are black. Blacks make twice as less than their white counterparts. 24 percent are unfortunately living below the poverty line as well. (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2011)
Gentrification can clearly be seen as violating U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 21—Civil Rights where one should not discriminate:
…against persons based on age, disability, gender, race, national origin and religion (among other things) in a number of settings—including education, employment, access to businesses and buildings, federal services and more. Chapter 21 is where a number of federal acts related to civil rights have been codified—including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.”Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1964)
Schulman (Hofrichter, 2003:548) has noted that negative stereotypes have led to health professionals not wanting to care for African Americans. If this is the case in the healthcare field, the same could most likely be said for receiving help on poor housing and environmental issues. More citizens should take time to recognize why minority neighbourhoods are still in the same predicament. It would do justice to remove racial stereotypes. “To the extent that social epidemiologists elucidate the urban poor, these should be described to broad audiences as a means to alter public understanding of these behaviours.” (Hofrichter, 2003:548) The public needs to have a better understanding of what took place in previous decades, as well as to understand that this still is a dilemma today. This definitely will not occur overnight, but taking the steps to get there is a start. Which then leads to the suggestion of dialogue.
“The District Court found thatwhile the city and local housing authority had no power to develop housing outside the city, HUD failed to consider regionally oriented desegregation and integration policies in Baltimore, in violation of its mandateunder the Fair Housing Act to promote fair housing affirmatively.” (Gladora, 1, 2006) The court has stated that the HUD had an obligation to not only refrain from discrimination, but to actually do something about the segregation and the housing issues within the West side community.
These same remarks are quite similar to Freidrich Engles, who was a 19th-century German political writer. He had a theory on housing that was from his 1872 work; “The Housing Question”. (Engles, 1872) The work done deduces that the cities problems of social inequalities are not even really solved. In actuality, they are just moved somewhere else that is politically accepted. This is exactly what gentrification does; yet gentrification is readily used to resolve poor housing in minority neighborhoods. The HUD actually was able to make a slight change to housing discrimination.
From a historical standpoint, one can see that it was difficult for blacks in Baltimore neighbourhoods to make a difference. “Hurley’s study of Wagner Electric’ in St. Louis, for instance, shows how housing and occupational discrimination restricted jobs and neighbourhoods around the plant mainly to whites, a pattern that persisted well into the 1960s.” (Boone, 2007) After the neighbourhoods seemed to no longer have value any longer and whites left said neighbourhood, blacks moved in. With lower pricing, low-income families had the chance to live in these homes. The homes were no longer as attractive and unfortunately had quite a lot of environmental and health hazards as well.
“After white flight in the 1960s, African Americans moved in, encouraged by blockbusters, and were left with a toxic brownfield. Others have highlighted the legacy of early zoning decisions on present-day land use to explain patterns of inequity.” (Boone, 2009:768) There is a study done by Boone, which shows the history of disadvantaged blacks in Baltimore. (Boone, 2007) This had led to distribution of toxic release inventory. His study focuses on environmental equity. Though the poisoning rates are beginning to decline, many black families unfortunately are still suffering from the years of exposure to poison. A study in 2006 found that white families lead levels declined in 1999 and blacks increased. (Sosa, 2015:1) Once again, while whites are affected by poisoning, it is not at the same rate as black residents. This shows how racial bias works into even the aspect of environmentalism. The African-American population was restricted to the downtown central business district.Blacks were mainly living in cities while whites were able to live in suburbs. Blacks migrated from southern states into northern cities, and while this began, many whites left the areas that Blacks went to. White departures were, in part a response to black migration.” (Boustan, 2010: p. 419)
Housing discrimination is slowly being changed in Baltimore thanks to the Thompson v. U.S. Department of state court case. It has allowed for steps to be taken forward to improve current residents living situation. In the near future, hopefully this court case can help to improve the situation on abandoned homes in Baltimore as well. It also helped that a major Non-Governmental Organization; ACLU has stepped forward to make a difference for those residents in Baltimore. (Gladora, 2006:1) Not only has the ACLU helped, but also the writers of the ‘Baltimore Sun’ consistently speak on problems with poor housing conditions and poverty in West Baltimore. If more attention like this could be presented to the media about racial stereotypes and bias, changes would take place a lot faster.
This chapter will focus on American media, in the form of television, newspapers and radio stations as well. Comparing several popular American news channels brings an array of opinions. Also, the main reason for focusing on television rather than newspapers and radio news, would be the fact that a large amount of bias and stereotypes are formed from what people see. For this reason, television media will be analysed and will help to test the hypotheses of this. News articles on the Internet will be analysed as well. While newspapers are not as conducive to this research as television and Internet would be, there is still a wide amount of readers. Newspapers also tend to give political bias as well. Three sources used to analyse, were NPR, FOX News and CNN. The local news stations in Baltimore used was; WBAL, ABC 2 WMAR, WJZ CBS 13 and FOX45. The local news stations were looked at to try to get the most accurate representation of media in the Baltimore area. For a month these channels were watched and articles were viewed on each of their websites online. The morning and evening news usually reports on crimes, so I watched the news between the hours of 7:00am until 9:00am and then again at 11:00pm. I tracked news coverage of murders, assault and theft. The aim of the analysis is to seek an understanding of why the public has such negative ideas of one group of people and to understand the perspectives of these specific media outlets. This should give an idea of where exactly this mindset came from after comparing data from the answers given by the news outlets, along with their answers on how much they look to media for information.
WMAR reported on crime the least of the four local news stations watched. ABC News 2 reported on crime the most. While there are a majority of African American residents in Baltimore and that could be the reason for seeing multiple crime reports in relation to them, it was still repetitive. Overall, Baltimore local news stations presented balanced news. During the weekly news on ABC News 2, there would be multiple reports of the same case. For the weeks that I watched CBS Baltimore local news station and reviewed there online website, the majority of reports on African Americans were in relation to crime. There was a repetitive formula on the other three news stations. There would be repetitions of the same reports on murder and crime, up to three times for the same report in one day and then replayed again the next morning. There was rarely any discussion of the root causes of crime in these areas and what takes place within the justice system. On Fox news, in the case where an African American was a victim and had been killed, the story only lasted up to one to two days. While the cases where a non-minority was killed, it would go on for three days up to a week. The story would include accounts by family members of all the good the victim had done. It painted a more positive narrative for these victims versus African American ones. Fox News also would have crime reports three to five times in evening news reports and three times in morning news reports. These segments were thirty minutes each. Many times while watching, I have noticed there was not as much background given on those who have died that were African American. As in, if the report did not include something on criminal history, there was nothing positive included about the victim. Stories that were non-criminal tended not to be about those who were a minority race.
This view is supported, when looking at the Baltimore Sun’s article on environmental racism. The Baltimore Sun is a local newspaper that gives insight on not just mainstream news, but everyday events that take place within the city. The information here will be used to showcase the environmental racism, which as stated above, is linked with media bias. The Baltimore sun gives direct information on environmental racism that occurs in black communities in Baltimore. It is quite difficult to understand why this topic does not nearly get enough attention. Media lacks attention to minority environmental issues in areas where there are a significant amount of low-income residents live. “This is especially true in cities like Baltimore, where water insecurity, poor air quality and unsafe housing are prevalent and hurting black communities.” (Sosa, 1: Baltimore Sun) There is such a lack of attention in regards to environmental issues in poor neighbourhoods. Once again, instead of resolving them with the residents who do live there, they are just forced to move out into outer suburban areas, where the same issues continue. “While rates of poisoning have steadily declined overall, black families are still suffering the burden of this legacy. A 2006 study showed that the percentage of white families who lived in homes with dangerous levels of lead had decreased since 1999, while the percentage of black families actually increased.” (Sosa, 2015: 1)
Direct quotes were referred to from online media outlets to ensure that I was getting a good sample to represent Baltimore’s media representation. The news selected also touches on all areas of Baltimore, so it is broadcasted to various ethnic groups. I touched on several national news stations to use as comparisons to local ones, as well as to see how much of an impact what is reported, plays on the public opinion.
The crime in Baltimore is extremely high and the NAACP and other groups have sued Baltimore County. This has helped to integrate the communities within Baltimore. Baltimore County came to an agreement that they would spend thirty million dollars to build one thousand homes. (Vittert: 2016, 1) It is actually better to have a community that is inclusive of multiple races, rather than separate ones with only affluent families. It allows a chance for equality among families and brings about better educational and job opportunities to those with lower incomes.
This content found on Fox News, a highly conservative American news outlet, seemed to focus a lot on the violence aspect of Baltimore’s issues. The intentions of this article were to discuss integrating communities that were poor with ones that were more affluent. Instead of focusing on the positive outcomes of doing so, this article spoke on the violence of Baltimore. Here was a chance to enlighten those who actively read on this website about the real issues faced by West Baltimore’s residents.
“Baltimore's poorest neighbourhoods have long struggled with a lack of decent housing and thousands of abandoned homes…The city needs to do more about decaying properties if it wants to revitalize neighbourhoods like those where Freddie Gray grew up, says Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association in West Baltimore.” (Fessler, 2016: 1)
In comparison to the Fox News Article, NPR (National Public Radio) does a better job of highlighting what is actually wrong with the housing in Baltimore. In the Fox News article, it was stated that the reason behind integrating communities was due to violence. The main causes, written in the NPR article are that there’s actually not a lot of decent housing, abandoned homes and decaying properties.
In West Baltimore; “In one case for example, an African-American man in his mid-fifties was stopped 30 times in less than 4 years by police, yet none of the stops ever resulted in a citation or criminal charge.” (Johnson and Peltra, 2016:1) This shows a relationship to racial profiling and links to the surrounding narrative of African American communities being filled with crime. The information below details the racial profiling that still occurs and is not reported on in local news and rarely in national news as well. So while people will hear about African Americans getting arrested, they often are not hearing reason behind the arrest.
“Officers found contraband twice as often when searching white residents during vehicle stops and 50 percent more often during pedestrian stops…” (Wilber and Rector, 2016:1)
“The investigators found that ‘supervisors have issued explicitly discriminatory orders, such as directing a shift to arrest all the black hoodies in a neighborhood.” (Wilber and Rector, 2016:1)
Besides the consistent reporting of crime in Baltimore, it was rare to hear or read online about the poor housing issues in Baltimore. There was often no historical data to gain understanding on the conditions and why the neighbourhoods were filled with crime and heavily segregated. It gave the opportunity for conservative news stations to tear apart Baltimore’s issues.
“Once upon time, Baltimore was all that.In 1970, almost906,000 people, or nearly 1 of every 4 Marylanders, lived there, and its docks and mills helped keep the lights on in a lot of other places around the state. Now it’s the other way around. The population has shrunk to anestimated623,000 people, and the rest of Maryland is now paying a lot of its bills. The Maryland Reporter, in one of many stories analyzing the city’s deeply entrenched woes, said 20,123 taxpayers left Baltimore and 18,361 became city residents, making for a net reduction of 1,762. That also translated into a net decline of $314,908,000 “or about -3.05% of the static tax base,” the article says. So “grit” isn’t doing it for a lot of folks. Besides, if by “grit” you mean danger and dysfunction, D.C. still has a lot of that, too, and not just on Capitol Hill.” (Kunkle, 2016:1)
Articles like the Washington Post one above, on Baltimore’s current state do no better to help the already hostile views of Baltimore city. It stimulates a false portrayal of Baltimore and is quite ignorant to say the least. Previous chapters in this research looked at the economic history of Baltimore and explained the reasoning behind Baltimore no longer being like it was the 1970s. While there is some dialogue and help for Baltimore’s low-income areas, many reports will form misinformed opinions on the area. This allows readers to digest such thoughts and pushes people further away from the Baltimore area. If more people move out of Baltimore or do not move at all, it limits the potential the city has.
It would be of benefit to have more accurate reporting on crime and for the media to stop over representing one group as criminals, based on overall reports of news across the country. There should be more diversity seen on television as well as what is written online and printed.
“Notably, not only are numeric disparities evident in the racial/ethnic breakdown (Gant &Dimmick, 2000) of both on-air television newsmakers and those working off-air (Papper, 2005), but the overall proportion of minority TV news directors (12.5%) has dropped…When it comes to on-air apperances, Whites account for 77% of newsmakers and Black Americans 22%...” (Bryant and Oliver, 2009:329)
The reason for diversity being needed in the media is because it can lessen the chances of bias information being presented. It allows a platform where not only one group has a say. It brings about real condensed conversation and allows for different viewpoints to be made and challenged. When people start to see diversity on television and hear other perspectives from the ones they are used to, their thought process on topics could possibly change. Citizens of the Baltimore area could open up more and be more sympathetic to those who are crying out for help and even begin to support them. If city officials see that there a major want for change within neighbourhoods, more effort could be done. While watching the local news stations, I have found that there is a diverse group that does come together to discuss community relations. Comments would be that the community would take a chance to look at the root causes of the problem within the neighbourhood. Overall, crime on a whole was reported a lot more frequently than any other segment and given the most screen time as well, the average time being sixteen minutes, during a thirty-minute segment with commercials as well. This is something that would be beneficial to change as well.
It is unacceptable that media continues to show minorities at an inaccurate rate to their counterparts. The media should be showcasing the truth, and trying to enlighten people on the realities that take place in their communities and around the country. This should not be a place where one specific ethnic group is put in a vulnerable place. After being exposed constantly as only several different stereotypes it becomes reinforced in the public’s eye, and that allows the hostile mindset to come about. For instance as in the chapter on Baltimore’s history, it was seen that whites moved away immediately from said neighbourhoods’ after realizing that they would be in the same areas as blacks.
More conservative stations and news articles tend to be ignorant on the realities that take place within minority neighbourhoods’. They give biased views and information without proper sources and this information is read and watched by millions of people each day. Many people take heed to what they watch on the news. In report by the American Press institute, (American Press Institute, 2014) it was reported that, thirty-three percent of Americans watch the news all throughout the day. If one is to watch television all throughout the day, it is hard to not acknowledge, that a great deal of their perspective on what takes place around the country stem from the news. A lot of the consumption of news is through a variety of sources. Those who had more devices such as, phones, game systems, computers and television, found it easier to keep up with the news throughout the day. (American Press Institute, 2014)
Local news stations have done a better job of giving accurate news representation and giving clear information on the details of suspects despite their race. National news stations tend to focus more so on violent news and focusing on stereotypes of African Americans, rather than give diverse factual information. News stations need to remember to look at all aspects of news stories without omitting certain details to influence their own bias.
Habermas Dialogue as a Resolution to Poor Housing
Basically, Habermas’ concept of dialogue is to be believed that both parties are open and willing to participate in dialogue. Habermas would describe the current state of media bias and dialogue as something difficult to take place at first. If both parties are to be open and willing to participate, the dialogue may be difficult to even happen because there are already preconceived notions from both parties. “There is at present no democratically constituted world society.” (Habermas, 2008:445) Though this may be true today, gradually it could become so and help social inequality issues, discrimination and bias.
“Under the pragmatic presuppositions of an inclusive and non-coercive rational discourse between free and equal participants, everyone is required to take the perspective of everyone else and thus to project herself into the understandings of self and world of all others; from this interlocking of perspectives there emerges an ideally extended ‘we-perspective’ from which all can test in common whether they wish to make a controversial norm the basis of their shared practice.” (Habermas 1999:58)
Each party, being media and possibly government officials in this case would need to try and at least have dialogue without their bias and current ideas of others. The most beneficial option to relieve the tensions between Baltimore residents and local officials would be to gain an understanding of one another’s perspective. It may seem like a faulty idea, but mainly for the fact that at times, this approach is rarely used. Habermas’s perspective on dialogue is quite interesting and has been regularly critiqued by many international relations writers. (Marquis, 2013:1) The use of his literature in this paper gives some insight on an approach that I too, believe can make some change. Now that change could possibly have negative outcomes, but the current state of Baltimore is not the most positive.
It would take not just having town hall meetings where there is not proper conduct and information being tossed around without any order. It would take several weeks of meetings and possible presentations where the history of Baltimore’s state can be discussed. The idea can come across as utopian, but could dilute the negative atmosphere in West Baltimore’s area. To take it a step further, more regional organisations may have to be created in order to gain international attention. The reason for attracting international attention on this topic is become this not something that only takes place within the confines of Baltimore, or even America alone, this is a global issue. The issue is on a greater scale and can be compared with colonialism and actually stems from early colonialism. Much of the talk that happens in the international relations system is talk of war. Its focus is of how to limit foreign tensions. While there are no qualms with this, the same applications placed on discussions of war should be applied to issues of human rights or social inequalities on a larger scale. (Marquis: 2013,1) Social inequality issues like the ones focused on in this paper, should have more dialogue on a global scale, because this is not just something that affects a few American cities alone. (Wharton, 2008:1)
Most discussions or arguments on a normal basis require one to have dialogue to resolve issues. If this occurrence were such normality for our everyday lives, what would it take to thus make it happen in international relations and for the city of Baltimore?
Baltimore, Maryland is at an unrest and feels that they are unheard and often ignored. The Washington post reports that Baltimore is dangerous and no one wants to move there. There are ads to move to Baltimore because it is cheaper. Many feel that the reason for being so cheap is because the city is running poorly and there is often a lot of crime. Many of the times that news articles report on Baltimore’s neighborhoods, the reports leave out the fact that the city lost many of its jobs. There are plenty of factors into why many of these residents still have no jobs. When the manufacturers and mills closed down in the city, minorities were the ones who found no further help.
More recently, what garnered negative attention to Baltimore and the reason behind my research on Baltimore were the 2015 riots that took place. While the media had not focused much on the killing of Freddie Gray, the riots gained a large amount of attention. Reports spoke on how violent this area was and that it is so poor due to the violence and the people ruining their own city. The city had already been ruined for years after the jobs left the area. Outlets also focused on one neighborhood in Baltimore, while there are actually two hundred neighborhoods. It was the hopes that Freddie Gray’s death would bring about change not only in terms of police brutality, but shed a light on the poor in Baltimore who are in need of dire help. It was the belief that possibly people would see the state that Baltimore was in and actually want to change. Gray’s death was the first time Baltimore, Maryland had gained a large amount of national media attention.
In the neighbourhood where Freddie Gray resided, some residents did not have heat. One story reported on a mother and her children having to sleep in the same bed just to feel heat. There were complaints of mold as well. The housing department in Baltimore blamed residents instead of actually trying to renovate the apartments. (Woods: 2016:1)
What could be done for instances like this one, is for tenants to possibly write out what they feel is wrong and take pictures so that the housing department can be notified. After seeing a push from the housing department, Baltimore city will be more inclined to mend issues with residents. City officials, who have actually taken action to improve neighbourhood problems, should send out statements on what takes place within West Baltimore, so that the rest of Baltimore can gain an understanding. Though integration would help severely, it is not something that can just be pushed unto outside residents. It needs to be a gradual change and this is where the dialogue would need to come in. Town hall meetings should not just consist of minority residents, but non-minority residents as well. Residents like Harrell should bring their complaints forward to city officials.
I have found that Baltimore city officials have in fact tried to improve Baltimore city’s poor neighborhoods. It has been a slow start and some still are not behind improving, but it is a start. The state officials on the other hand have ignored, quite consistently, appeals for Baltimore, Maryland. Still many families are being displaced to lure in those who are more “affluent” in exchange for actually helping those who do live there. “Communities United went to Nick Mosby with pictures of deplorable conditions and he was told of deplorable conditions in May and he never did anything about it,” Hopkins said of the city councilman, and former candidate for mayor, who represents the neighbourhood.” (Woods: 2016,1)
The shooting of Freddie Gray, a resident of West Baltimore that took place in April 2015 influenced the reasons behind this research. After seeing the housing conditions of West Baltimore through television and social media, I wondered what could be done to resolve this and why Baltimore had ongoing issues with their housing and minority communities. The research was brought on to understand why there was not enough dialogue about this. After hearing news reporters speak negatively of Baltimore residents and their current living conditions, without explaining the causes, I felt this needed to be written and spoken about to the public. There has to be more diversity on screen and accurate details in news stories.
To understand the media’s influence on racial stereotypes and bias is completely important in the field of international relations. Most times, global dialogue tends to not speak on domestic western topics as much as topics like war, foreign policy and theory. There is also the question of why there is not enough information concerning minorities in conversations about international relations. Topics about inequality are not discussed far enough in major world conferences. If the discussion is not about war or money, it will not be discussed. There is not nearly enough literature about the racial stereotypes in media that discern the poor and oppressed. It is the hope that this dissertation will reinforce why it is extremely important to bring about literature discussing inequality in different aspects.
I am glad for the opportunity to place this topic in an international relations platform. Many say discussions on race, poor and oppressed should be left alone, but if it is not talked about, how do the issues ever get resolved? The media will constantly overtly focus on negative stereotypes and only present concern when there is violence occurring. This then influences a large mass of people in the United States and even abroad to have a one-sided view of all minorities and poor. Many wish to represent and have their problems heard, but if it is concerning a majority poor population it gets ignored. Changes can only be made once there is more research and a greater voice about such topics placed at the forefront. A quick google search for “international relations topics” will show mainly 20th century war and foreign policy topics or mainstream political topics. It begs the question of what is “political” to mainstream? Also, when conducting a search for this particular subject, one will find very little on human rights. This research is also done in effort for those in not just Baltimore, Maryland, but other poor cities in America to possibly get the attention deserved. This paper is to shed light on real issues that American media constantly looks over in place of other trivial media. This research has found that improvements are in fact being made in Baltimore to integrate some West Baltimore homes. While it will take time for residents to come to see the positive outcomes of this, it will very well be of help. At the same time, gentrification is still seen as the first solution to poor housing problems. Baltimore City’s officials would still rather reconstruct a poor neighbourhood entirely and slowly have poor residents move away and attract more affluent ones to gain revenue into the city.
Stereotypes and bias are more so seen in major news corporations rather than local news, but local news stations often speak of African Americans in relation to crimes. From the news watched, not much information was given on poor housing in Baltimore except a few articles.
This research sought to bring attention to Habermas’ dialogue in another light. It is the hope that dialogue can be used to bring change into social inequality issues, especially issues of bias, which communication is highly needed to do so. In order to remove bias and gain a real understanding of others, one has to communicate. The communication can lead to others having more sympathy for another group and wanting to help the Baltimore area.
Not only are these issues in Baltimore necessary for others in the state of Maryland to hear, but for those in other states where gentrification is a major issue.
Proposal Start: Feb, 2016 End Date: May 4th, 2016
First Meeting With Supervisor: TBD
Literature Review: May 25th – June 20th
Data Collection: July 30th-August 30th
Data Analysis: August 11th-August 30th
1st Draft of Dissertation: August 15th –August 24th
2nd Draft of Dissertation: August 25th- September 5th
Final Draft: September 6th- September 10th
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Figures and Appendices
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
(US Department of Health and Human Services, 2011)
Data by the US Department of Health and Human Services shows that the majority who live within Baltimore are now 63% African American and many live within the poverty line.