This is something I really encourage white people to do, I really don’t think I need to tell PoC that they generally aren’t represented well in media. Though I haven’t done it in awhile, the I used to pick up The City Paper and count the people represented in photographs or drawings, and think about how they were depicted. It didn’t surprise me when I had several days where out of the fifty to sixty people pictured less than five were PoC. I also count people depicted in advertisements due to the generally positive depiction in them. Please note that this is not me singling out The City Paper, if you pick up most mainstream publications you’ll likely find the same thing.

So just as a snapshot, here’s the count from the June 26-28 2010 edition, with some notes.

Total people: 93
White : 68
Poc : 18
Indeterminate: 7 (silhouettes or very small depiction)

This is actually far better than normal, but when you look at the breakdowns something else emerges:


  • Atheletes – 6
  • Prison – 4
  • Family – 7
  • Professional – 0
  • Misc – 1


  • Athletes – 0
  • Prison – 4
  • Family – 19
  • Professional – 32
  • Misc – 13

Just a note about the numbers above, not everyone marked as Prison related were prisoners. The numbers came from one photo for a story about rehabilitation in prisons, and I marked everyone depicted in the Prison category, as it was not indicated who were there as part of the staff or as participants in the program. Given Attire It is likely that both PoC and white people were professionals participating in the program. All of the depictions of PoC being part of a family were from one advertisement for Movies in the Park, and I have to really give them credit for that. There are any number of good breakdowns of why media representations matter, but unfortunately I’m in the process of moving so can’t track any down. If you know of some, please post them in the comments and I’ll revise this post to include them.

I’ll be posting up more counts over time, but I do encourage you to look at the depictions of all types of people in the media surrounding you. Not just PoC, but LGBT people, people with disabilities (none depicted by the way), and any other group you can think of. From an equality and attitude standpoint it’s depressing.

This is not news. This is not how it should be. We can and must do better than this.