Newspapers have historically manipulated stories to the advantage of the dominant side. The article entitled “Historical representations of aboriginal people in the Canadian news media” by Robert Harding places emphasis on this issue in the context of Indigenous people in Canada. Harding writes about how newspaper articles from the 1800’s manipulate the settler’s point of view against the Indigenous people in favor of the “white man”, the dominant race. He mentions that the Indigenous people were portrayed as “primitive and child like”. This is one of the senses of entitlement of a patriarchic society. It shows a paternalistic dominant culture “taking care” of minority groups. Those who are being taken care of are in turn, disempowered. In Samantha Nock’s article, “Being a Witness, the Importance of Protecting Indigenous Women’s Stories” she mentions that these women’s are often “homogenized”. That sex, drug addiction and poverty are the underlying factor in all cases of missing Indigenous women. While this may be true to an extent, every missing Indigenous woman is painted with the same paintbrush. Nock mentions in her article, “There is no room for Indigenous women’s stories to be told, to be honored, to be witnessed.”
In addition to portraying minority groups as “primitive and child like”, it is also common to portray the minority group as emotional. This gives us the excuse to treat them “savages” and suggests that if you are going to be “good” in society then you are only “good” if you fit into our language, our culture and our emotions. While growing up I was fascinated by Indigenous people. Looking back on it, I realize that actually self-educated by reading books about Indigenous people, watching movies and attending many cultural events. I am fortunate to have attended school with the Chief of the Blackfoot tribe’s sons and was exposed to their culture and arts. I feel that because of my experience I can read stories such as the ones mentioned in the articles with a point of view different from those who have not had my experience.
In accordance with the MELS competency “To act as a professional who is an inheritor, critic and interpreter of knowledge or culture when teaching students” I have learned that I will need to understand certain aspects of culture in order to teach it to my students professionally. It is my responsibility as a teacher to understand and interpret the media in such a way that I am not influenced by it’s manipulation and that I can in turn teach my students how to be aware of potential issues in news and media. I also feel that MELS competency “To plan, organize and supervise a class in such a way as to promote students’ learning and social development” applies in this situation as well. It is important to discuss these issues as a class, to supervise the discussion so that all viewpoints are heard and promote the students’ learning about these important issues of our time.
I believe that this information is a very good reminder of the way that we must interpret the media in our time. Though one article deals with news written in the 1800’s, there are many current events such as the crisis in the Middle East that is often misrepresented in the media today. If we think that racism is being abolished and that everyone is accepting now, that is simply not true. It is important to educate our students on this fact and make them aware of potential manipulation in media and in life.