In this article the authors make an argument for a critical race media literacy that is attuned to the ways in which popular media are used to adhere media consumers to a taken for granted US national identity. Using the concept of “black narrative commodities”, the article suggests that black pain and/or black visibility become filters through which black lives are brought into a nationalist framing. The article uses three popular media commodities to illustrate how how pain and visibility mask a nationalist agenda, including: (1) the videotaped killing of Eric Garner, (2) the book The New Jim Crow and the film 13th: An Original Netflix Documentary, and (3) the movie Black Panther. The authors suggest that critical media literacy absent a cogent and principled interrogation of the interplay between race, class, and the nation-State is incomplete.
Brian Lozenski and Guy Chinang
William M. Reynolds and Brad Porfilio
Vonzell Agosto, Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ashley White, Tanetha Grosland and Allan Feldman
We center three publicly accessible images: (1) Am I not a Man and a Brother? (1787), (2) Colin Kaepernick (2017) “Taking a Knee”, (3) Mother McDowell of the Black Student in Florida Admonished for “Taking a Knee” in school (2017). The photograph of mother McDowell is included, rather than her son, who she wanted to remain anonymous across media outlets. We draw primarily from publicly accessible media and scholarship available via the Internet (museums, newscasts, scholarly repositories) to provide a composite of kneeling discourse and counter-narratives related to race (i.e., anti-slavery, abolition, anti-racism protests) and proper behavior. Each image is situated within literature supporting analysis through concepts (time, race) visual, and textual information. Rather than detailing the images, we focus on the surrounding narratives, contemporary readings, redactions, and annotations (we create or relate to) to consider emotions as part of the context, impetus, and force behind the actions captured in them. We juxtapose, redact, and critique images and texts associated with kneeling/taking a knee by men and boys racialized as Black, but not exclusively., as the practices we illustrate in response to structural racism (i.e., discipline in schools) also bring attention to events involving other students: a Black girl and an Indigenous (Inuit) boy.
Derek R. Ford
This article calls for a partisan media literacy. It begins by building on Kellner and Share’s typology of critical media literacy, ending with their own, which Ford labels “radical democratic media literacy.” Yet in our particular age we need more than criticality, we need partisanship. To make this case, the author turns to Russiagate and the repression of independent media and radical activists it’s facilitated.
Lori Bindig Yousman
Despite the potential for technology to bring us together, current research shows that new media can actually exacerbate social disconnect and contribute to feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and anxiety. However, young women in treatment for eating disorders reported that participation in a critical media literacy curriculum helped combat isolation. More specifically, participants revealed that the discussion generated throughout the critical media literacy curriculum fostered a sense of reciprocity, companionship, self-expression, and empathy. These findings suggest that critical media literacy curricula can provide a much-needed opportunity for dialogue where individuals not only hone their understanding of media and work towards social justice, but also develop a sense of community and connection that may be missing in today’s networked culture.
Sherell A. McArthur
In the current sociopolitical climate, children, often, bear witness to the levels of vitriol in this country. It has become more imperative that elementary classroom teachers disrupt normative discourses. Therefore, the author suggests critical media literacy as a significant pedagogical practice to utilize in order to do so. In this article, the author articulates the importance of employing critical media literacy in the elementary classroom to deconstruct the diversity of tense relations in the u.s. and provide a language for students to articulate their identities and experiences. Through her experiences in elementary classrooms, as a teacher and a teacher-educator, the author provides practical examples of how to disrupt normative discourses by utilizing critical media literacy.
As citizens demand more media literacy education in schools, the criticality of media literacy must be advanced in meaningful and comprehensive ways that enable students to successfully access, analyze, evaluate and produce media ethically and effectively across diverse platforms and channels. Institutional analysis in the digital age means understanding who controls the architecture(s) of digital technology, and how they use it. Big data, high tech, and rich transnational global media all need to be carefully studied and held accountable. “Panopticonic” practices such as surveillance, geolocation, data mining, and niche microtargeting need to be studied as information brokers reap huge profits by amalgamating and selling off the data that internet and social media users unwittingly but willingly provide to companies. In light of the growing evidence that online-only networks create filter bubbles and polarization, people will need to interact and mobilize in offline real world spaces. Critical media literacy education must explore how human interactivity is undergoing tectonic shifts as powerful ideological and economic interests work to alter our digital media ecology. Such an approach will allow us to better leverage our public interest goals through a media landscape that preserves the multidirectional, participatory, global, networkable aspects of the digital world.
In the contemporary cultural conditions of unstable knowledge/truth, precarious economies and 24/7 media saturation, we need to rethink knowing and learning. While there is much general agreement that the means and modes of communication have changed, and, with it, the ways we approach media, education, culture, society, citizenship, commerce, politics, art, science and everyday life, there is a diversity of terms to describe the change, each with an animating spirit and intellectual tradition behind it. There is a disconnect between school pedagogies, situated literacy practices in everyday life, and the types of abilities and knowledges needed for workplace and civic participation. Further, even as school jurisdictions around the world rush to apply solutions to the technological impasse brought upon by the digitalization of communication, too often the answer is seen as adding training in new competencies to the existing curriculum, as though the crisis is one that can be fixed with a few adjustments. If the aspirational horizon of schooling is the preparation of young people for engaged participation in cultural, civic and economic spectrums, a renewed and comprehensive model of literacy is urgently needed.
This article situates contemporary critical media literacy into a postdigital context. It examines recent advances in data literacy, with an accent to Big Data literacy and data bias, and expands them with insights from critical algorithm studies and the critical posthumanist perspective to education. The article briefly outlines differences between older software technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), and introduces associated concepts such as machine learning, neural networks, deep learning, and AI bias. Finally, it explores the complex interplay between Big Data and AI and teases out three urgent challenges for postdigital critical media literacy. (1) Critical media literacy needs to reinvent existing theories and practices for the postdigital context. (2) Reinvented theories and practices need to find a new balance between the technological aspects of data and AI literacy with the political aspects of data and AI literacy, and learn how to deal with non-predictability. (3) Critical media literacy needs to embrace the posthumanist challenge; we also need to start thinking what makes AIs literate and develop ways of raising literate thinking machines. In our postdigital age, critical media literacy has a crucial role in conceptualisation, development, and understanding of new forms of intelligence we would like to live with in the future.
Donna E. Alvermann
This research project uses both critical theory and Michel Foucault’s concept of power to analyze a read-aloud children’s picture book titled The Tantrum that Saved the World. Published in 2017 by World Saving Books, the e-version’s 64 colorfully illustrated pages tell of a little girl who stares down the climate crisis, channeling tantrum power into positive action. Equally important, the analysis brings media literacy into dialogue with powerful discursive practices that cannot take hold in the absence of critical theorizing.