African-Americans in Media

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There are many shows on T.V. today that shows African-Americans in a negative light. There is more representation of people color in the media than in past times, the quality of the product is more important than quantity. Fun has been poked fun at the African-American throughout the years, by presenting a character of buffoon or childlike quality. The reproduction of stereotypes of African- Americans in film has existed since the day of slavery. Early in the 20th century the coon character was developed. The representation of the coon was of lazy, non- accountable, watermelon eating, and using improper English type person. This was a popular from of entertainment for many people, and even in today’s society this is still a form of popular entertainment.

Throughout American history many enertainment forms have protrayed African-Americans in negative degrading forms, such as minstreal shows and early television. Movies such as Birth of a Nation”questioned whether or not black people were fit to run for governmental offices or vote or to even live an productive, independent life. In the 1930's, studies found a high level of consistency among adjectives used to describe black people. Furthermore, most of these adjectives were negative, and included terms such as superstitious, lazy, and ignorant. Today’s stereotypes are not much different, Depictions of African-Americans include unintelligent, loud, poor, unable to swim, and criminal. Stereotypes can also be "positive" terms, although this does not make them less damaging to their targets. This paper's focus is the linkage between social perceptions of minorities and their TV roles. Research on the relationship between mass media and ethnic perceptions suggests that the media shape knowledge and beliefs of the majority about minoritygroups and, in turn, influence minority responses to the majority (Faber, O'Guinn, 1987) .Exposure to stereotypes produced unfavorable effects on the viewers. When the target Character was white, no association was made between racial identification and evaluations of the character. However, with relative consistency, when the target character was Latino or black, viewers racial identification increased, perceptions of the character’s education and qualifications decreased.

Minorities have long been aware of the influence of the mass media on their lives and have struggled to increase their own impact on the media. There have been victories and successes to which minorities can point and emulate. With increasing media experience and exsposure, minorities are determined to expand their media influence, as they are expanding their physical presence in our increasingly multiethnic society.

One of the first shows on T.V. to depict minorites in a negative light was the highly famous show "Amos n' Andy".The significance of Amos’ n Andy, was on for almost thirty year history as a highly successful radio show. The position of the Amos’ n Andyshow in television history is still debated by media scholars in recent books on the cultural history of American television. Amos’ n Andy was first broadcasted on CBS television in June 1951, and lasted some two years before the program was canceled in from growing protest by the black community in 1953. It was the first television series with an all-black cast ,the only one of its kind to appear on prime-time, network television for nearly another twenty years. The adventures of Amos’ n Andy presented the antics of Amos Jones, an Uncle Tom- like, conservative; Andy Brown, his zany business associate; Kingfish Stevens, a scheming smoothie; Lawyer Calhoun, an underhanded crook that no one trusted; Lightnin,' a slow-moving janitor; Sapphire Stevens, a nosey, loud-mouth; Mama, a domineering mother-in-law, and the infamous Madame Queen. The basis for these characters was derived largely from the stereotypic caricatures of African-Americans that had been communicated through several decades of...
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