The Perks of Positive Perception

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Englewood, Chicago, is a district with a written history that is discouraging and depressing. Most timelines and books about Englewood and West Englewood focus on the history of crime, racism, and poverty.

Students in Englewood today, working with Tonika Johnson, are working to change that perception by doing their own journalism, and choosing to focus on the positive advancements in their hometown.

Johnson, with two others, is providing the kids with a free, eight-week after school program in which they will work to deconstruct the negative images of Englewood put forth by the media.

The project calls attention to the ways that the media can both create and further the perceptions of an area, or a group of people. Of course, if the only media representations available to Englewood children are over-represented images of crime and impoverishment, the children won't have healthy role models in the media to look up to.

The article profiling Johnson and her students brings up a key example of how the media can create very flawed representations of reality just by leaving out one important, positive attribution.

Tatiana Hood, one of Johnson's eighth grade students, recalls an article describing a peer who was shot and killed outside of school. Leaving a vivid impression, she said, "Nobody ever said he was on the honor roll."
Photo courtesy of Flickr, via


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