Systemic racism is a sociological theory that was developed primarily to understand the role of race in societal development. Feagin in a book on called ‘Racist America’ analyzes how there have been historical evidence showing that Black people were being represented by the white society as being under them, even in the liberated context. There exist racist institutions and behaviors that would need to be changed at a very fundamental level. Feagin in the book introduction states that “Systemic racism includes the complex array of antiblack practices, the unjustly gained political-economic power of whites, the continuing economic and other resource inequalities along racial lines, and the white racist ideologies and attitudes created to maintain and rationalize white privilege and power” (Feagin). In this context it can be said that it is the racist ideology that is presented in mass media. The racist ideology attempts to present power over the blacks. Mass media can be said to have practiced racist ideology or systemic racism as shown in the picture on the billboard. Here the billboard represents a white family that is living the American dream. They are happy. They represent the consumerist lifestyle where having more was equated to happiness. The billboard is one form of use of the mass media as large sections of people watch it. However, here mass media promotes racism by predominantly showing that a white family is happy in consumer America.
The essay has critically discussed the picture of Margaret Bourke-White to analyze how mass media is empowered to both create a myth and also break it. Media in the context of the picture of Margaret Bourke-White does play a paradoxical role. At one end the billboard in the backdrop represents that the whites are indeed enjoying a happy life-this caters to one segment or one type of audience. On the other end, the picture in its entirety will present that the blacks are suffering in America despite trying to live the American way. Mass media thus holds power as it can create a myth and also place a counter argument for it. This power of the mass media to represent is seen even in contemporary times and it becomes even more necessary for the news consumers to read between the representations.