Ethnic Studies Midterm Notes: Racism in Media

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Amanda Gomez
ETH 125

Origins of negative stereotypes about black women in contemporary media:

-- What is power?
The ability to influence (negatively or positively)
* In the context of contemporary American society, white males, especially whose who are financially stable, have a disproportionate amount of power. * A critique of racism, is a critique of white male patriarchy.

--Racism in American pop culture is not something new.

--Black stereotypes in the media began in 1830. A man who went by the name of “Daddy Rice” put on some shabby clothes, (which was assumed that he had borrowed from an African American at the time) painted his face black and put on a show to the song “Jump Jim Crow”.

--Began the “Blackface Minstrel Show” craze in America and parts of Europe.

--Blackface: mocked, humiliated, and degraded African Americans. Was a statement of inferiority, and social imperfection. Also implicate the innocence of whites from the injustices experienced by black people

--American white society fully accepted and enjoyed these grotesque shows. The way Rice characterized blacks was the way mainstream America had thought of blacks all along.

--Negative serotypes of women in the media began with the “mammy” character. “Mammy—the rotund, smiling, benevolent, uniformed black woman—is by far the most popularly disseminated contemptible collectable of all. Today she continues to happily oversee our pancakes and waffles as Aunt Jemima. (Dirks, Mueller 287)”

--Black women were portrayed as just “the help”, servants and maids.

--“…Other authors have turned to identify what they consider contemporary examples of recycled racial themes. For instance, daytime talk shows, (and) hip-hop (are) examples of modern-day minstrelsy…. Tracing black representations in movies from Uncle Tom’s Cabin through the end of the 20th century, the regular resurfacing of the old racial stereotypes among contemporary characters, even in the face of...
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