After over 60 years since the launch of the Civil Rights Movement and over 150 years since the Women’s Rights Movement emerged, it’s alarming that racism, sexism, stereotyping and misrepresentation continue to plague the media landscape. Now, a first-of-its-kind web app, Rate My Media, is aiming to change that.
Created by esteemed digital equity champion and University of Southern California associate professor, Dr. Brendesha Tynes, Rate My Media is the world’s first crowdsourced rating site focused specifically on equity and inclusion in the media. Consumers are empowered to raise attention to and speak out against all forms of biased media, including textbooks, video games, news articles, television, apps, radio, advertisements, books, films, comics, magazines, educational materials, social media sites, blogs, music and more. In turn, educators and consumers are enabled to make informed media choices and expose media offenders. Alternatively, they can upload and search the site for media that are inclusive with multi-dimensional representations of users.
As racial tensions in the United States continue to escalate, Tynes believes that Rate My Media will play a critical role in alleviating the strains by increasing media accountability through a community of engaged users.
“As a major institution in society, the media play a critical role in our culture,” explains Tynes. "The media is a source of the racial tension we see play out in the news every day. When people are fed a constant media diet of the superiority of one group, it is easy to dehumanize others.”
The idea for this app was inspired by Roni Dean-Burren and her son Coby, whose World Geography textbook described African slaves as “workers” in a section on immigration. The video of this mother, educator and doctoral student exposing the misrepresentation went viral. Months later, Dean-Burren was able to get McGraw-Hill, the publisher, to change the text and reissue copies to schools of the revised version. Deeply moved, Tynes decided to take it a step further and focus on all forms of media.