Jan 18, 2012

why there should be more tv shows about people of color

I watched Treme last night and realized it had been a long time since I watched a tv show in English with a majority people of color. This matters in all sorts of ways, but here's a description of a creepy study about how brain research shows white people people lack empathy for brown people. It was research from the University of Toronto-Scarborough and it shows that white people’s mirror-neuron-system fires much less, if at all, when they watch people of colour performing motor tasks.

There is nothing about this that is hardwired. It is just a matter of what people are used to that then shapes their brain's mirror neurons. As this article about the study argues, "When we watch movies and TV shows and read books featuring white protagonists, we have to put ourselves into white people’s shoes to understand the stories and feel the emotions of sadness, laughter, and pride. But people of colour are rarely the protagonists in the media that white people watch, so they rarely or never have to imagine themselves as us."

So as banal as the show All-American Muslim seems, it may be changing not just hearts but literally minds (if you've missed this reality tv phenomena, check out the clip below. I love the nasal Michigan accent. I don't have it, but for the record, my family is from Michigan.) Yes, yes, it's highly problematic that they have to constantly prove that they really are Americans. It will be great when we have shows in the US and Canada about Muslim families where they don't have to prove anything.

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