Question: How does media representation (or lack of representation) of marginalized groups impact the perceptions of those groups by the members of the groups and others?
Agree: Adichie, Maalouf, and Spivak would all agree that inaccuracy or generalization in depictions of marginalized groups denies the diverse experiences available to members of those groups. The authors would also agree that this denial of identity causes ignorance and even discrimination by non-members of the particular group, citing a variety of examples to justify this point. All authors clearly describe the negative impacts upon members of the marginalized group upon comprehending either a lack of representation or inaccurate representation. Maalouf asserts that generalizing a variety of experiences into a single identity is dangerous and could lead to dehumanization and its dangerous societal implications. Adichie describes her inability to comprehend that people in her group could have a place in literature when, as a child, she is unable to find representation of her marginalized group. Spivak describes the profound disrespect of the Australian literary community’s acceptance of the Irish Nino Culotta’s writings as an accurate depiction of the experiences of an Italian immigrant as well as the impacts that lack of value for true stories would have on an actual member of this group.
Disagree: The authors differ in their views on how this media culture of generalization should best be remedied. Maalouf seems to insert his own personal experience into the narrative of immigrants as a whole, advocating for members of multiple cultures to act as bridgebuilders between their different groups, embracing the dual parts of their identities rather than being forced to choose one option. Adichie suggests improvements in cross-cultural diversity by the empowerment of members of a single minority group, as she describes her ideal of libraries filled with the words of African authors and writing labs teaching people of her particular group how to express their experiences. Spivak suggests that action by non-members of marginalized groups in order to research the struggles of these groups and “earn the right to critique” their own privileged status would allow for further positive representation of marginalized groups in media. Each of the authors asserts their own personal viewpoint when confronted with the issue of media representation, and these points are different from one another – much as the experiences of the different authors are not homogenous.