AAMU Partners with Truth in Reality to Combat Media Stereotypes

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NEW YORK, NY -- Truth in Reality, a media advocacy organization founded to combat the harmful effects of the stereotypical representations of women of color in the media, especially on violent reality television, announces Alabama A&M University (AAMU) as the newest partner school for its “Redefining HERstory Campus Social Action Program”.

Redefining HERstory is a national educational campaign that began in October 2014 and has been running concurrently on college campuses. As of December 28, 2014, AAMU is the third school to partner with Truth in Reality.

National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) award-winning writer and renowned domestic violence activist for women of color, Sil Lai Abrams, created Redefining HERstory to provide students with tools to help reshape the existing violent and hyper sexualized stereotypes of women of color in the media, to educate them on the intersectionality of media violence and domestic and sexual violence, and to increase male accountability for the prevention of gender-based violence.  The Redefining HERstory Campus Social Action Program is part of a larger Redefining HERstory Public Awareness Movement that will continue to run after the Campus Program concludes in March of 2015 during Women’s History Month.

Recent studies have revealed that violent reality shows have an adverse effect on the emotional development of young women and girls and can predispose men toward violent behavior toward women. Roughly half of all reality shows feature cast members primarily comprised of women of color whose behaviors reinforce damaging stereotypes that normalize relational aggression against women of color, including university-aged women who are at greater risk than their White counterparts to be victims of sexual and domestic violence.

According to Sil Lai Abrams, “Redefining HERstory will challenge students on their existing belief systems around gender-based violence and redefine society’s existing negative narrative of Black women by using the media messaging on reality television as the basis for this much-needed conversation.”

AAMU, which will observe its 140th anniversary in 2015, takes pride in its ability to provide resources that force its students to search for new knowledge and think critically. Says AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., “The fostering of exemplary images of black men and women is an integral role of the black college tradition.  With an ample and ready supply of positive role models and relationships in their own lives, young men and women will begin to demand so much more of the sources that seek to entertain them.  We applaud the efforts of Sil Lai Abrams and Truth in Reality to challenge the pervasive and often disingenuous portrayal of African Americans.”

The confirmed partnership between AAMU and Truth in Reality will serve as a vehicle of empowerment for students of the institution, supplying them with media literacy tools that will enable them to think critically about different facets of the media and their attitudes towards gender-based violence. 

Monteva Hodo, the reigning Miss Alabama A&M University, ran her campaign for campus queen on the platform “Repairing Our Image Affected by Reality Television: Fostering Student Growth Through Promoting Positive Self-Perception that Leads to Exemplary Leadership.”  Hodo, along with two other students, serves as a campus coordinator for the Redefining HERstory Campus Social Action Program. 

“The ability to partner with Truth in Reality is a great opportunity to bring national awareness to the issues that are affecting the African-American community today,” said Hodo.  “As the media continues to stereotype our culture in one negative light, it is my goal to show society the positive attributes of young Black adults that the media does not typically highlight.”   

For additional information on Truth in Reality, current Board and Advisory Council Members, or to join the Redefining HERstory Movement, please visit TruthInReality.org.

About Truth in Reality.  The mission of Truth in Reality is to change the way women of color and violence are portrayed in the media, especially on reality television. Through digital advocacy, public awareness campaigns and educational programs, it aims to change society’s acceptance of gender-based violence and to ultimately reduce its incidence in the Black community.

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