American youth spend more than 10 hours engaging with media content every day—content that is often discriminatory, manipulative, and in some cases, absolutely false. And even though today’s youth may be digital natives, they are digitally naïve: A 2017 study found that a majority of students tested lacked the ability to distinguish advertisements on website home pages, recognize the difference between an article and a sponsored post, or identify media bias. As a result, they are developing problematic beliefs with real-world consequences. When false ideas about minority groups circulate through mass media, African Americans receive harsher sentences from judges, less attention from doctors, and a higher likelihood of being shot by police. Launched by the social impact organization Weird Enough Productions, Get Media L.I.T. responds to misrepresentation with a comprehensive media literacy learning tool designed to teach students how to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media content. In the process, the program seeks to empower African American students to debunk stereotypes and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, equipping them to take control of their own narrative and promote social justice in their communities.
At Weird Enough Productions, we are dedicated to addressing media misrepresentation through original content and media literacy education. Get Media L.I.T. was developed as part of our educational curricula to give middle- and high-school students a framework for how to combat fake news, identify media bias, and make content of their own.
Our project was influenced directly by biased media portrayals of minorities, and underrepresentation of minority groups. Seeing a consistent lack of diverse voices is what compelled us to act.
Our biggest challenge is to get media literacy into the hands of as many students as we can. Working with schools is notoriously difficult, but we’re thoroughly prepared to overcome.
Since our initiative exists at the intersection of media and education, it’s informed by leaders from both disciplines. Creative thinkers that push the envelope like George Gerbner, August Wilson, and Donald Glover have deeply influenced the work.
Any person who takes a leap of faith to create something they care about highlights what our project is about. Students recording short films on their iPhones, recording music tracks in their closets, and writing blogs about their interests—those are the people that encapsulate the spirit of what we do. We believe that as long as you pursue your personal truth, you’re never too weird, just Weird Enough.
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