With the rising number of television sets in American households post World War II, came hope that this unprecedented tool of mass media would bridge the socioeconomic, racial, and cultural divides splintering the county. However, since television's conception in the late 1930's, it has further alienated racial minority groups from the consumer oriented, white hegemony dominating the American stratum. With a few exceptions, television has vastly contributed to a sort of unconscious racism, fortified by prejudiced stereotypes and under representation of minorities, and in particular, African Americans. W.E.B. Du Bois, the revolutionary black civil rights activist and author wrote in his The Souls of Black Folk (1903) that “the Negro is … born with a veil, and gifted with the second-sight in this American world, –a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.”(3). A featured article in the Journal of Popular Film and Television titled “African Americans in Film and Television: Twentieth Century Lesson for the New Millennium,” Jannette Dates and Thomas Mascaro refer to the same Du Bois piece, highlighting his notion of a “double consciousness … [the] sense of always looking one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that look son in amused contempt and pity.” (Du Bois, 3). Though Du Bois obviously wasn't speaking of television when he wrote these words (as it hadn't been invented yet), they nonetheless, can be applied to the manner in which black people in America have been treated with regard to popular media – without a voice of true self-expression in a white-run medium.
[...] Ford discovered in this study that subjects who were with negative racial profiling of African Americans tended to carry these judgments outside the context of television and into real life scenarios. By constant activation of these negative stereotypes in the minds of the American people, many television shows illustrating the black experience perpetuate inaccurate and degrading images of African Americans and create a medium where blacks are continually subjected to roles depicted white executives have laid out for them. Works Cited 1.) Dates, Jannette and Thomas Mascaro. “African Americans [...]
[...] In terms of television, the white network executives couldn't allow authentic African American representation as it would threaten to subvert the white power structure the land of equality ironically clings to. It also true that many network executives, producers and the like are not meaning to be reinforce racist stereotypes, however, they may be totally unaware that they are in fact doing so. Additionally, improving race relations is definitely not the aim of television whose producers are primarily concerned with profit and ratings. [...]
[...] McCullough speaks of the independent film market allowing her make her films how she wants, and especially in dealing with her treatment of the portrayal of blacks stating that “most of us [African Americans] are conscious of the fact that we have an obligation to show truth to show Black people as they are [emphasis McCullough's] as opposed to who somebody else thinks we are I have no right to employ the stereotypes that the majority media has employed. My whole thing is to dispel stereotypes” (Jackson). [...]
[...] Although the increase in television series featuring black casts increased in the 1950's through the 1970's, the producers and major decision makers of the shows were white. In essence, like Du Bois inferred, black America was watching themselves through the eyes of ‘caucasia.' Equally, many white Americans whose only interaction with the black community were left to assume that what they saw portrayed on television was in fact reality. Dates and Mascaro argue that be effective, a stereotype must be anticipated by the conditioned perceptions of the beholder as well as the imagination of the imagemaker” and considering “African American portraitures . [...]
[...] Portrayals of African Americans in early television are depicted as buffoonish, lazy, poor, and uneducated, adopting such stereotypical characterizations as shiftless coon, the termagant Mammy, [and] servile Uncle Tom.” (Pondillo, 103). Wearing blackface was hugely popularized by people like Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor that it ceased to be a viable form of racism in the eyes of white America. Though many actors claimed blackface and minstrel acts were in the spirit of vaudeville, one cannot escape the deeply rooted bigotry in these representations that “served only to reinforce an invisible racist ideology.” (Pondillo, 107). [...]
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