African Americans And The Mass Media

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Angelica Nwandu Professor Lang Final Paper May 3, 2010 African Americans and the Mass Media The general population relies on the media as a main source of information and the basis on which many of their opinions and biases are formed. (lapham, pg. 37). The dangers of mass media is that it is a regurgitation of societal stereotypes that are being fed to the masses. Not only does the mass media have the power to influence opinions and encourage racism, but the media has the power to impact voting decisions as well. (lapham, pg. 37). Often times the media is where stereotypes and biases are derived. People who have had little interaction with persons of a specific race or culture often formulate their opinions about that group from representations seen in the media. (Hartman, pg 97). In some cases, the media can serve as their only form of cultural education. (Hartman, pg. 98). One of the most controversial issues is the debate on how African Americans have been represented in the media. Many believe that African Americans have been perpetually represented with negative images through the media. The African American population is small in comparison to the general populous. Thus, there are very few representations of African Americans which is why the black community is sensitive to the images that are being portrayed through the media. There are constant efforts to create television shows and movies that convey the black family in a more positive light. However, many of the shows that are supposed to counteract the stereotypes only assist in further perpetuating them. The first representations of African Americans as inferior in pop culture were the Jim Crow characters of the 1850’s. The irony was that the Jim Crow characters were not actually black actors, instead they were white actors that were covered in black paint that portrayed African Americans
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