I thought that as time progressed from what seems a few short years ago of not having an internet, to today where we live on the internet, the way we track narratives and gather information would get better. Medicine has gotten better, technology has gotten better, and a lot of the ways we do things have gotten better. So why hasn’t news reporting gotten better?

In a saturated information age, it has only become easier to hijack a narrative. Let’s say the internet was a black woman. Let’s call her Ebony. Ebony has to deal with her narrative being hijacked all the time. Why? Because she is a black woman. The world bullies black women — even though no one today would exist without a black woman. Mitochondrial “Eve” was the mother of all current races, regardless of color.

African American women are falsely seen as angry. If a Black woman walks down the street with a serious face, she is perceived as an angry, oppressed person, who probably has a chip on her shoulder. But Ebony may, in fact, be quietly walking down the street with a pensive face because she is figuring out a chemistry equation in her mind — like Marie Daly, the first African American woman who earned a doctorate in Chemistry in the U.S.

Alternately, if a white woman or man, or even a Black man, walked down the street doing the same thing, it would be assumed they had something on their mind but were not angry or hostile. I include the Black man in this because many Black men have also bullied and made assumptions about the narrative of the African American woman.

I saw a video of an Asian woman talking about how Black women are constantly assigned false narratives and vilified. False narratives don’t resolve problems. Case in point: Oak Park and River Forest High School had a walkout last week. The walkout was about sexual harassment. CBS Chicago was the only news station to report about it. On air, on multiple platforms and third-party news outlets, it was reported that the walkout was about fights at the school. Going online to read the report, only then can you see that the walkout was about sexual harassment and rape culture concerns.

Only Wednesday Journal got it right from the beginning. The narrative about fights rings louder than the real concern about sex abuse and rape culture. The real narrative was stolen, making their walkout mission less effective on such an incredibly important concern.

This is how things don’t change. It is when false narratives about individuals or groups are perpetuated and, as with Ebony (our African American woman) and the kids at OPRF, when you have had enough, you take a stand and push back. There should be more accountability for creating narratives that cause damage and oppression within groups and individuals.

Another example: Some of you may not care about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but one thing their narrative teaches is that the internet, and news outlets who have their own agendas, are guilty of hijacking a personal narrative (theirs). It has caused damage to their lives and mental health. They have combatted this with several lawsuits. When they went to tell their own story, people were less inclined to hear it because it was told over and over incorrectly by other people for personal gain. Their narrative was hijacked. In my opinion, a story as serious as sexual harassment and rape culture at the school needs more attention and their narrative autocorrected. I am proud of the kids who walked out to express their concern and take an ethical stance. We owe it to them to listen and understand the real problem — the real narrative.

EL Serumaga is a resident of River Forest and founder of ecovici.com.

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