The Black Student Union (BSU) hosted a Media and Messaging Workshop for the AULA community to discuss how the media consumed today colors our perspective of groups and what we can do to start thinking critically of the media. The panel was led by the BSU’s event co-chairs Jamila Gaskins and Andrea Williams and adjunct faculty member Kiara Nagel. Nagel is a lead associate of the Center for Story-based Strategy, an organization that focuses on teaching storytelling techniques and how to use it for social change. The event was sponsored with help from the Undergraduate Studies Program.
The workshop started out with a TED Talk from acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie entitled The Danger of a Single Story. In the video, Adichie discussed how relying on one narrative for convenience encourages the use of stereotypes and stresses the importance of breaking that habit to make way for more complex, diverse narratives to be told.
That was followed by a short documentary on artist Alexandra Bell and her series of photos and articles from The New York Times. She took notable headlines such as the Michael Brown shooting, the Charlottesville riots, and the Ryan Lochte scandal, and reformatted them (sometimes completely redacting articles) to call out the discriminatory bias of the paper and encourage readers to think more critically about the news they read. “What you give space to and what you allow people to see says a lot,” said Bell in the documentary.
The event concluded with a discussion of Childish Gambino’s music video for This is America, which contained graphic content and commentary. It went viral after its release on YouTube in May. The track and its accompanying video forced viewers to come to terms with their own views of American society and called out the hypocrisy in willfully ignoring the reality of where the nation currently stands.
The BSU is planning to offer more of the Media and Messing workshops given the large turnout and the topics that were brought up during the discussion.
The videos that were viewed during the workshop can be found at the following links:
The Danger of a Single Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg
Applied–Alexandra Bell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MHXY6vIoe4
(Because of the graphic content in Childish Gambino’s music video This is America, we strongly encourage viewer discretion before viewing.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYOjWnS4cMY