The _________ Community

There’s a good chance I may have posted something like this in the past, but it bothers me so much that I feel the need to write about it again (or for the first time…and maybe I’m just too lazy to go back in the archives and see what I’ve written about, but anyway…).

I think I have just about had enough of different cultures, races, orientations, etc. referred to as “communities.”  It’s so formulaic and simplistic that it is almost boring.   It’s so irresponsible from a journalistic standpoint that I can’t even believe that people still get away with it, but every time I hear something on the radio or when I actually watch the news on television, I hear it.  The Gay Community.  The Black Community. The Muslim Community.  It never ends.

The problem I have with hearing this term is that it reinforces old stereotypes by portraying different groups as having one certain way of thinking or believing (or voting for that matter…and the Toronto municipal vote is precisely what prompted this post).  When reporters or journalists say something like, “This candidate is hoping to get the vote of the gay community…” as if every gay person is going to vote the same way, it demeans what this city is about and it simplifies and insults gay individuals everywhere.

It’s the same when comments are made about the Black Community, where we are referred to as a singular beast, all votes and thoughts moving in the same direction.  If you even take a very topline view of some variance between different groups of black individuals, you would see some very clear differences in attitudes and beliefs.  Barbados and Jamaica aren’t that far apart geographically but people from those two islands are about as different as can be…and when they emigrate to Toronto, it is quite possible that those beliefs are strengthened, weakened or even just modified as they are exposed to different ways of thinking.  The Black Community just doesn’t really exist.

This isn’t to ignore trends in voting or other patterns, but I think we need to be responsible for how we group people and present their ways of lives to other people.  If there is one thing that people in today’s age are, it’s ready to follow a leader; when that leader is the media, a dangerous outcome can be developed.

I hope that after the votes have been counted, there will be a little bit more responsibility from everyone.  There won’t, but I can hope.

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