Is it me or does it seem like September started
? Time sure does
fly. I hope everyone is off to a great school year. My classes have started off with a bang with so much going on in the world to discuss and analyze. We discussed so many topics already from fake news to Facebook's role in the 2016 election to the recent heated conversation about protests and patriotism. Each week I give my students a
"Media Scavenger Hunt."
They have to search the internet for specific examples of representation in the media. Whether it be a hunt for elderly people in commercials or overweight individuals in sitcoms, the weekly assignment is an attempt to get them to think about representation and the narratives being created about different groups.
I am always surprised and inspired by the media content they discover and their reflection on that content.
Last week, I asked them to explore
how Muslim children are portrayed in the news
. This one proved to be quite powerful for them. Their discoveries really moved me, and I wanted to share a few words from two of my students' reflections anonymously but with their permission. I thought you would appreciate the sentiment.
Whether outright or inconspicuously, the word terror or terrorist always seems to link itself in news articles regarding Muslim children, women and men. This undeniable, media propagandized association between Muslims and terrorism is extremely detrimental. Furthermore, this connection publicizes and enforces the widely held, ignorant belief that Muslims are terrorists...to combat this identity crisis, we should listen to their stories, encourage news sources to post articles utilizing Muslim voices and allow Muslims to define themselves as all that they are and not who some assign them to be.
When I was living in Korea, I had no idea who (Muslims) were and what they believed in. The only place I ever heard about Muslims was in the media, which tends to cover them in a negative way, and that made me feel nervous and scared of them. Now, after a long time living in America, I have made some Muslim friends and learned more about their religion and culture. Actually communicating and being around Muslims made it much easier for me to understand them and feel that they are the same as all of us human beings...I truly feel sorry for them because the media misrepresent them and causes honest Muslims to struggle in their daily life with the reputation media create.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with these students' sentiments, I hope you see the point in me sharing them. It's to show us how even the most simple and basic media literacy activities can move a person to think deeply about the world they are living in. This is why I am so deeply committed to media literacy education and my work at NAMLE.