The media has the power to inform and influence society on a daily basis. But with the power to influence comes a responsibility to open up society's viewpoints. Instead the media often forgets about that responsibility when covering countries victimized by stereotypes. By perpetuating stereotypes the media has created a culture of ignorance. Haitians, like many other countries, are forced to deal this ignorance.
Growing up with Haitian parents I faced some of this ignorance. In the ninth grade my geography teacher asked every student in class to talk about their ethnicity. When she came to me I said my parents were from Haiti.
She then asked me, " Were your parents refugees? Did they come by boat?" I replied that they came by plane.
The media's constant images of Haitians arriving by boat to Florida have led to the misperception that the only way Haitians can come to America is by boat.
Another misperception I have often dealt with is my race. Being light skinned often confuses people about my race. When I tell them that my parents are Haitian, I always get the same question, "Are your parents black?"
Haiti like America is a melting pot of cultures but the media does not acknowledge that. While the Haitian people often face prejudice so does their country.
After the earthquake, Haiti was thrust into the spotlight. For about two weeks the media covered Haiti on repeat.
However as time passed and new tragedies unfolded the media lost interest in Haiti. The media appears to only be interested in Haiti when tragedy occurs. This can be seen in the media's coverage on Haiti showing poverty, dictatorships and disease.
By focusing solely on this type of coverage the media plants the idea into the minds of Americans that Haiti is a place of constant devastation.
On this website you will find some research I have done on Haitian stereotypes along with interviews I have conducted.