16 and Pregnant (2009-present) is an MTV reality series. It follows pregnant teenage girls as they deal with the difficulties of being pregnant in high school and raising a baby at such a young age. The show has inspired several popular spin-offs, including most notably the Teen Mom franchise. It has also been controversial, with some applauding its realistic portrayal of teenage motherhood, and authors arguing it glamorizes and encourages teen moms.
This 2015 video from MTV News weekly series Decoded features Franchesca Ramsey breaking down 7 myths about cultural appropriation, or where dominant groups “borrow” or capitalize upon cultural practices or expressions from marginalized groups who are not similarly celebrated, but rather face oppression or are stigmatized for their cultural practices and expressions. An example she uses is how cornrows and other natural Black hairstyles become “edgy” and “cool” when White celebrities don them, whereas Black women and men have a long history of styling their hair in cornrows, locks, and braids, and are often penalized in schools and workplaces for wearing their hair in these natural styles. Franchesca also goes on to discuss the lines between cultural appreciation, exchange, and appropriation and addresses common points of contention around critiques of cultural appropriation, including, 1) You’re just looking for something to be offended by. It’s just clothing, hairstyles, decorations, whatever…Don’t you have something better to worry about?, 2) I’m just showing appreciation for the culture, 3) I don’t find it offensive, and I asked someone from that culture and they said it was ok, 4) Fashion, art, film, music always borrows from other sources. It doesn’t hurt anybody, 5) You’re just trying to tell everyone what to think, 6) So because I’m white, I’m automatically racist?, and 7) If Chinese people wear blue jeans, aren’t they appropriating my culture? Or what about Black girls wearing blond weaves? Or how about speaking English? After discussing the differences between assimilation and appropriation, she ends the video discussing potential avenues for cultural appreciation and exchange.
In 2015, amid growing visibility and media coverage of cases involving police brutality against African-Americans, the New York Times created a documentary titled, “A Conversation About Growing Up Black.” In this five-minute film, nine boys and men from the ages of ten to twenty-five are asked candid questions about their experiences as African-American males.
In Febuary 2015, Upworthy published a video that brought together actors of color to describe their experiences at auditions for the U.S. entertainment industry. The actors recount being told by casting directors to act in a stereotypical fashion and being typecasted based on their race and ethnicity. The clip uses personal stories to challenge accusations that the film industry is too Eurocentric and therefore, leaves few roles for actors of color to audition for. The clip cites various studies supporting the use of diverse casts stating that nearly 70% of casting calls prefer white actors, that films with relatively diverse casts excel at the box office and in returns on investment, and that television shows reflecting the nation’s diversity excel in ratings. So with potential for better ratings and better returns, the video asks viewers, “What’s the new excuse?” Upworthy is a website for viral content that promotes progressive stories tackling political and social issues.
This is a print ad for a new Adidas basketball shoe. Adidas, which is based in Germany, is the second-largest sportswear manufacturer in the world and has been producing basketball sneakers in America since the 1960s. The advertisement portrays an African American male in athletic gear crouched on an outdoor basketball court, with his inner monologue printed in graffiti-inspired typeface just beneath.