by Odetta A Fraser · 26 Jul 2020 · 6 min read
As the media's outreach has expanded over the years with the rise of technology and social media platforms, representation has become a more prominent and debated issue among the public. Media outlets and platforms that primarily use images to engage with their audience, have an enormous responsibility in shaping how people perceive reality, as well as their roles within it.
Growing up, I hated how I looked. My mother is Irish, Polish, German, and Dutch, while my Dad emigrated from Nigeria. I was a biracial girl living in a majority Caucasian town. Not only was I surrounded by people who looked different than me, but I also rarely felt represented in the media. This lack of community during my adolescence gave me little to no self-esteem, self-worth, or self-confidence, which led me to want to change everything about myself: my hair, the accent I picked up from my African family, and even my skin color.
I was about one month into my dream job as a forensic psychologist in a remand facility for adolescent girls in Brooklyn, New York. Unlike my old job, this one did not offer a parking lot for employees, but I was issued a state parking plaque to use in front of the building when there was space. However, that employee-issued parking plaque was enough illicit the suspicion and disbelief of the NYPD leading to me getting wrongfully arrested and detained for two nights. This experience was not the only instance of racial discrimination in my life, and it certainly was not my last as an employee. I chose to tell this one as it was, sort of, my official introduction to life in America as an educated, African-American woman.
As it turns out, relationship abuse does not discriminate. Domestic violence can happen to any woman of any race, religion, education level, income, or age. A victim of relationship abuse can look like anyone — even Miss New Jersey USA.
As a mental heath clinician, I was fascinated by the podcast on NPR One last spring entitled "The Shrink Next Door" (produced by Wondery and Bloomberg) for several reasons. For one, it is an alarming story of betrayal and of a degraded mental judgment on the part of the patient that occurred in this day and age, this century, which is probably the main reason for most of the shock. However, I have to say that most shocking of all was the tepid response to Marty Markowitz' initial conclusive complaint and the many steps that he had to take to receive an appropriate interest into his remarkable story of psychological mistreatment and betrayal. His damning complaint took four whole years to review, and it was not even completed at the time of the story's broadcast. What's more, it appears that once the responding agency got wind of the media attention following the story's publication, their handling of the issue changed for the better — which is even more discerning and telling of American culture and its feckless systems.
In this past week, I was pleasantly surprised by the decision of the Monmouth County High School to require African American Studies as part of the curriculum for its students, in efforts to correct the decades of miseducation and misinformation