Fight Negative Media Stereotypes

6 mins read

Fight negative media stereotypes

Media stereotypes perpetuate racism. Let’s tackle diversity and representation one photo at a time.

Images influence our perception of people and issues, which over time solidify into beliefs. That’s why it is so important to use images that fairly represent all communities and be on guard against using photos that reinforce stereotypes. Where can you find good, free photos of people of color for your communications?

Nappy is a free resource created by Shade (an influencer management agency), with free photos of Black and Brown people.

Be purposeful

Nappy provides beautiful, high-res photos of Black and Brown people for startups, brands, agencies, and everyone else. Nappy makes it easy for companies to be purposeful about representation in their designs, presentations, and advertisements. Nappy enables photographers from all walks of life to upload their photos and share them with the rest of the world. Share this resource and let’s tackle diversity and representation one photo at a time.

An image has a profound effect on our perception of issues and people. Over time solidifies into beliefs. So change starts with the images we use in our communications. Nappy is a free resource with free photos of Black and Brown.

Licensing terms

“All photos posted on Nappy are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license so feel free to do your thing. That means you can download these photos, modify them, share them, distribute them, or use them for whatever you want for free. In fact, we encourage it. The more you use them, the more we’re helping improve the representation of Black and Brown people in media.”

Royalty free photo sources

Unsplash – “Photos for everyone”
Pexels – “The best free stock photos & videos shared by talented creators.”
Pixabay – “A vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images, videos and music.”

The danger of media stereotypes

“The way we get our information about tragedies skew our beliefs about what happened, why, and what we should do about it. Most of us get information from the mainstream media – which often feeds us a biased distortion of the truth, often with the wrong information, favoritism toward white people, and the demonization of people of color.

Sometimes it’s obvious and you can easily point out that it’s wrong. But a lot of the time, it’s subtle, playing right into the implicit biases you don’t even know you have to make you believe in ideas you don’t even realize are racist. The media chooses which parts of our lives to show – and their choices often humanize white people while vilifying people of color. On the other hand, when young people of color are the victims of violence, they still rarely get their accomplishments named in the mainstream media.” – Maisha Z. Johnson in “8 Ways the Media Upholds White Privilege and Demonizes People of Color” in Everyday Feminism (paraphrased)

Different pictures of James Holmes. Notice how the picture may influence your perception.

Racism in the media

“The media makes a choice – some pictures make us look impressive, and others that make us look like we were up to no good. When white victims lose their lives, the media shows graduation pictures, family photos, positive images of the life lost. They even often use such images for white suspects and murderers, giving us a sense of who they were before things went terribly wrong. Theater shooter James Holmes was shown in a smiling senior photo wearing a suit and tie.

When mainstream media outlets broke the story of Michael Brown’s slaying at the hands of the police, they could have used photographs from his recent high school graduation. Instead, many of them chose an image that showed him towering over the camera, holding his hand in what some people on social media interpreted as a gang sign. This media representation sways the conversation about whether or not the police were justified in killing the unarmed teenager. A one-dimensional representation of a victim as a criminal makes us more likely to believe that the killers’ actions were necessary.” – Maisha Z. Johnson in “8 Ways the Media Upholds White Privilege and Demonizes People of Color” in Everyday Feminism (paraphrased)

Takeaway: Avoid media stereotypes with images that accurately reflect people of color with free photos from Nappy.

A special shoutout to Emily Levy with Scrutineers who told me about Nappy. Let us know about other good free/affordable resources and apps, and we’ll be glad to share them. Thank you.


Image credit: Nappy
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