Tell the FCC to Investigate its Role in Perpetuating Racism in Our Media System

Since a police officer murdered George Floyd last year, the ensuing racial reckoning that’s taken place in our country has forced public and private institutions to acknowledge their history of racism.

Journalists of color have challenged several major media organizations to address how they have inflicted harm both within their newsrooms and in communities of color at large. The Los Angeles Times1 and The Kansas City Star2 published apologies last year acknowledging their history of racism. And now more newsrooms are being called on to do the same.

But newsrooms alone are not responsible for the systemic racism that exists in our media system. Federal policies and the choices that lawmakers and regulators have made have also played a foundational role in perpetuating the myth of Black inferiority — a myth that shapes decision-making around our criminal-legal system, and undermines Black lives and dignity every day.

There is so much we still do not know — or our nation has chosen to forget — when it comes to how the FCC has condoned racism in the media system or has been indifferent to it. The agency has passed policies that have prevented Black people and other communities of color from owning media outlets, and it has done next to nothing when faced with the racist actions of the broadcasters, cable companies and phone companies it has the responsibility to regulate.

US Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D–NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), have just released a letter calling on the FCC to address its role in creating and perpetuating structural racism. Because before we can move forward on the path to justice, we must first acknowledge the harm that has been done.

Join us in calling on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate its own history of racism and examine how its policy choices and actions have harmed Black people and other communities of color.




1. “Editorial: An Examination of The Times’ Failures on Race, Our Apology and a Path Forward,” The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, Sept. 27, 2020

2. Mike Fannin, “The Truth in Black and White: An Apology from The Kansas City Star,” The Kansas City Star, Dec. 20, 2020

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To Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel:

Since a police officer murdered George Floyd last year, the ensuing racial reckoning that’s taken place in our country has forced public and private institutions to acknowledge their history of racism.

Journalists of color have challenged several major media organizations to address the harm they’ve inflicted within their newsrooms and in communities of color at large. But media institutions alone are not responsible for the anti-Black racism that exists in our media system. Federal policies and the choices that lawmakers and regulators have made have also played a foundational role.

This is why we are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to investigate its own history of racism and examine how its policy choices and actions have harmed Black people and other communities of color.

We urge the FCC to conduct this investigation in the spirit of President Joseph Biden’s executive order on racial equity, which directs government agencies to examine how “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies, and in our public and private institutions, have often denied that equal opportunity to individuals and communities.”

Thank you.

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