Opportunity Agenda & Immigration

August 23, 2017

To promote more diverse and accurate depictions of immigrants, and to shift harmful narratives and stereotypes, The Opportunity Agenda and its partners participated in a Twitter chat to share strategies and resources about portrayals of immigrants in pop culture.

The Opportunity Agenda is a social justice communication lab that collaborates with leaders to move hearts and minds. Believing in the power of communication and collaboration to drive lasting change, the organization seeks opportunities to advance the impact of the social justice community by building the communication capacity of leaders and organizations. You can use pop culture to achieve

Strategic Aims:

  • Create a community: Twitter chats provide organizations with opportunities to partner with peers and colleagues around issues like immigration.
  • Create a social norm: TV shows and movies have the power to showcase diversity. As an example, the Star Wars franchise cast Diego Luna, an actor who has openly declared pride in his natural Mexican accent, in a leading role in Rogue One.
  • Increase empathy with stories: When viewers can relate to a film or television character, they often see themselves in that character’s shoes. “Tell stories that focus on actors’ humanity, especially when writing about groups that have historically been marginalized by U.S. media — like Muslims. Humanizing individuals is key to readers and policymakers understanding all actors in a story as people, not as simply perpetrators or victims,” says comedian and actor Aziz Ansari

What They Did:

Activity:

Twitter chat.

The May 9, 2017 Twitter chat discussed how representation matters in the portrayal of immigrants in pop culture. The chat’s participants included representatives from AndACTION, Define American and Culture Strike. By using pop culture, organizations can achieve several strategic aims, .

Background:

The Opportunity Agenda examined the representation and dominant storylines associated with immigration and immigrants, as well as immigrant and border communities, within popular television programs from April 2014 to June 2016. They analyzed 40 randomly sampled television shows and discovered that when focused on shows set in contemporary America, immigrant characters account for just 3 percent of leading and minor character roles. The results appear in the report “Power of Pop: Media Analysis of Immigrant Representation in Popular TV Shows.”

During the Twitter chat, The Opportunity Agenda shared this resource and others, including AndACTION’s report with the Ford Foundation, “Pop Culture Works for Social Change.”

Results:

The Twitter chat was one element in a larger effort by The Opportunity Agenda to raise awareness of immigrants’ portrayals in pop culture and catalyze meaningful change. The chat itself garnered more than 20,000 impressions and a Forbes piece mentions the organization’s “Power of Pop” report in an article about immigrants being portrayed as criminals on TV, which helped pave the way for further conversation. Immigrant representation is not likely to be transformed overnight, but thanks to organizations like The Opportunity Agenda, the door has opened for change to hasten.

Are you interested in implementing an activism campaign at your organization? Thanks to our generous donors, AndACTION can assist philanthropic, nonprofit and other social good organizations in arranging Twitter chats, film screenings, pop culture pivots and many other meaningful activities to spark change. Our services are free of charge. For more information and support, please email us at info@andaction.org. You can also to explore how organizations are using pop culture to leverage change in our report, “Pop Culture Works for Social Change.”