Digital Stories and Diasporas: Why is everything still white?

Media space is a widely contested space where diasporic groups are mostly excluded due to the fact that they are less directly involved in the production of media content (Georgio, 2003). This is why Diasporic Media is essential, as the perspectives and stories of minority groups not only need to be heard, but they need to be told by the people themselves.

In a post-globalised world, diaspora has become a broad definition for the dislocations of groups of people, one such group being that of asylum seekers, which is a perpetually heated topic in Australia.

It is important for asylum seekers to be represented in the correct way, since they are regularly dehumanised in Australian media, such as this example on 7‘s Today TonightThis report created uproar with its misleading statistics and information on how ‘boat people’ are living luxuriously in Australia.

As a media and communications student, I completely understand that the information told to us through current affair programs like Today Tonight is not only sensationalised but falsified, but I need to also realise that there is a majority of Australians who watch these programs and believe every word they hear.

So do programs like SBS’s Go Back To Where You Came From (video above) help fight this representation? Well, not really. SBS’s reality TV show took five ‘average Australians’ overseas to show them the reality of asylum seekers. Over the three-part series you see the individuals change their perspectives and become more empathetic. This is all the show really does, by offering a humane perspective (Thornley, 2011).

However, even in this series statistics are misleading, being shaped to create an empathetic reaction.One opinion piece criticises the series by saying it “has real people in real places, but it remains an exercise in manipulation for everyone involved” (Sheehan, 2011).

What we need is truths to be told about the diasporic groups. And the easiest way to get these truths is by enabling minorities to represent themselves. Which seems obvious but “they never offer the ownership of the means and process of communication to those who experience displacement are seeking refuge in another place” (Salazar, 2012).

The issue here is- they are representing themselves – but no one is watching, or listeinging or caring. There are countless videos on YouTube, movements like Minority Box and Facebook pages, that never seem to gain mainstream attraction.

Although, digital stories like these created by Cambodian and African migrant youth from Fairfield and Blacktown areas allow them to tell their stories. I still do believe however, instead of trying to create representations for these diasporic groups, we need to enable them to tell their own stories. We need to give it time for these stories to enter the mainstream realm as we are so entrenched in our commercial, white-bred ways. We need to give minorities the opportunity to create their own identities and enable them to do it in their own way (Rodriguez, 2001).



Salazar, J F 2012, ‘Digital Stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media and Communication, vol.1, no.7, < 3&sid=c5373eb0-b85c-44ea- b3e5- cc2e901acc61%40sessionmgr40 03&hid=4201&bdata=JnNpdGU 9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db= ufh&AN=79551905 >

Georgiou, M 2003, ‘Mapping Diasporic Media across the EU: Addresing Cultural Exclusion’, Key Deliverable: The European Media and Technology in Everyday Life Network, < research/EMTEL/reports/georgiou_2003_emtel.pdf. >

Rodriguez, C 2001, Fissures in the Mediascape: An International Study of Citizen’s Media, New Jersey, Hampton Press.

Thornley J 2011, ‘Go back to where you came from: Reality TV encounters the refugee crisis’, weblog post, The Conversation, 21 June, viewed 12 May 2015, < >

Sheehan P 2011, ‘You call this even-handed? Refugee series is strictly for the gullibe’, 23 June, viewed 12 May 2015, < >


One thought on “Digital Stories and Diasporas: Why is everything still white?

  1. While I agree that minorities within our local communities need to be able to tell their own stories in order to provide an authentic and empathetic depiction of life from their points of view, I don’t think that we can expect time to offer them ways to infiltrate the narratives of mainstream media. Media certainly is a powerful force within all societies, however cultural leaders must be the driving force behind changing the collective societal attitude towards the stories of less visible ethnic groups. Without this societal change, the mainstream media will not change, as they rely upon the general consensus and trends of the society in which they exist to survive, drawing from cultural attitudes to direct content creation e.g. a fashion magazine will draw upon already existing trends created by society (designers) to tell readers (society) what they should wear.
    This is why anti-racism/anti-xenophobia campaigns are so important; they change the attitudes of the society in which they exist in order to create a reflection back into the media of meaningful dialogue and communal cooperation. See the I Am An Immigrant campaign for an example ( and the media’s (BuzzFeed’s) article and forum discussion in response (


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