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Teaching Children How To Question the Media's Portrayal of Different Cultures
(adapted from the race and class section at

Family viewing time provides a context for discussing multi-cultural portrayals in the media. Have your children talk about these questions during or after watching a tv show or reading a book together.

1. Do white characters and characters of color participate equally in the story lines? In other words, were all the characters important or did some characters seem to contribute more than others?

2. Do the characters address racial differences? Do they do so in a serious manner or in a humorous context?
3. Can you find any stereotypes in how the characters are portrayed? Are some characters shown in a more negative light or are the characters portrayed fairly?

4. Are there any characters of color who are presented as good, competent, problem-solvers or as role models?

5. What were the relationships of the characters like? Did white and non-white characters interact in a professional setting, a social setting, or a private, home setting?

These questions are just a beginning for facilitating a conversation. And while these questions are geared towards television and movies, practice analyzing all forms of media. For example, when reading books, have children pay attention to the words that are used to describe different cultures and to the generalizations that are made.