Women of Color
on the Frontline in the Mass
Communication Professions Marilyn Kern-Foxworth
Throughout history the contributions of women in communications have been, in large part, omitted, ignored, or distorted. These conditions have been even more pronounced for women of color. The work of African, Latino, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) women who served as reporters, broadcasters, publicists, copywriters, advertisers, commentators, columnists, actresses, television and film producers, and personalities has not been profiled in historical documents as often as their male counterparts. Thus, in addition to the obstacles that they encountered because of their gender, these ground-breaking pathfinders also suffered untold challenges because of their racial heritage.
Gramsci (1971), an Italian Marxist, writing during the 1920s and 1930s, explicated his views regarding hegemony and its use in helping the ruling class control those beneath them in power, wealth, and leadership. He noted that hegemony is rooted in a kind of “cultural leadership” that uses the media to maintain the status quo. A British sociologist, Stuart Hall, reinforced Gramsci's theory regarding hegemony by delineating terminology that he labeled “the politics of signification. ” Simply put, the media produce images of the world that give events particular meaning. He asserted that the images projected through the media “do not simply reflect the world, they re-present it, instead of reproducing the ‘reality’ of the world out there; the media engage in practices that define reality” (Croteau, 2000, p. 166). Hall (1982) succinctly framed his viewpoint in this statement: