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Mass Media, Racial Stereotypes, and Social Stigmas

Clutch your purse, lock your doors, and never walk alone at night; the Black man is out there and he’s angry.

Clutch your purse, lock your doors, and never walk alone at night; the Black man is out there and he’s angry. The media has always been an active participant in perpetuating racism in America. Many African Americans see the media as a great evil, a cuprite in the spreading of information for the sole purpose of promoting the White man’s cause. Nazi style, media propaganda is used to promote race hatred and superiority of Whites. Demonizing and demoralizing images of African Americans helped to create a standard of belief that characterized minority behavior as inherently hostile, primitive, and quarrelsome. Projected media images of the Black ill disrepute typified minorities as a significant threat to Whites while tarring at the very fabric of American culture.

The Mass media’s stereotypical view of African Americans is overwhelmingly disproportionate for Black male crime in America. Much of what White America learns about the Black experience is not derived from interaction or intergroup relationships but rather through media news. Powerful media images often shape the attitudes and opinions of White America toward Blacks and other minorities. Negative imaging of violence and crime in the news is often detrimental to Black/White race relations. African American media professionals, recently inducted into the media profession, suffer as their expert opinions are ghettoized, reduced to reporting on black-theme(d) issues. And although there has been an increase of African Americans on television, these images show a racial hierarchy that is deleterious to race relations.

When America sees a picture of an African American on television we understand that it is more likely that a Black person has committed a crime. When America hears of a crime on the radio, we automatically assume that a Black is the cuprite. In US trial cases involving African American or White defendants, Blacks are 4 time more likely to have their picture posted on television news reports. Blacks are 2 time more likely to be shown in restraints, 2 time more like to have their picture broadcast several times during the course of a day, and twice as likely to have personal, trial information broad-casted on-air.

Minorities are continuously portrayed negatively in media films. Its only been recent that African American males have partaken in a main role as positive characters in American film media. Asian Americans are usually typecast as enchanted mystics or overachievers. However, Hispanics are typecast as gangsters and gang members. In the past, media portrayal of African Americans and other minorities usually cast them in secondary or tertiary roles as flat characters with non-speaking assignments. Whenever the role called for a speaking part, minorities often served as the comic relief with their very gutteral accents and dialects. Later, African Americans were often typecasted as thuggish, violent, brutes with rape on their minds and malice in their hearts. Viewed along side Whites and other minorities, African American males were more likely to be portrayed as loose canons with an extreme propensity for violence.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Opposite to the role of the angry Black man is the African American Woman, Mammy or Aunt Jemima. This media character portrayed the image of a wholesome, yet unattractive, and grossly obese woman in worn clothing attire. She had a strong superstitious, spiritual belief that opposed conventional wisdom. She was typecast as the maid who took care of the White man’s home and children. The most important attribute was that she humbled in the present of “White authority.” Black vernacular speech, characteristic of the language spoken during slavery, also characterize the Mammy stereotype. Today, African American females are typified as the over sexualized, seductive, promiscuous, and now selfish video vixen without conscious, with White avarice in her heart and guilt behind her. Is there any reason why African Americans have internalized the hatred of racism to exist as part of human nature.

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  1. John C.

    On April 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm


    Anything else you want to blame “whitey” for? Grow up, move on and get over it.

  2. Farin

    On April 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm


    John,
    Take offense to this. You’re either/both a complete idiot or you’re a yuppy baby boomer who’s blinded by ignorance. This is actually alot more common than you probably realize, but because you expose yourself to mass media images you have become desensitized. It’s almost sad that you are turning this around to victimize whites, you’re actually proving this WHOLE theory in one sentence. Good job contradicting yourself.
    Educate yourself.

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