Ethnic Notions

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Ethnic Notions
Ethnic Notions is a documentary that has really opened my eyes. The documentary shows to the viewer the attitudes and relations between “white” Americans and African Americans in the 1940’s. The display of the historical accounts of how African Americans were portrayed in media is still shocking even after all this time. The amount of propaganda and hatred that fueled the exploitation was ridiculous. A large number of “white” Americans today still show a complete lack of respect toward the African American culture as a whole. The documentary portrayed how various cultural characteristics have been used in the past abusively in different theatrical ways, i.e. cartoons for children, books for children, journal, magazines, posters, films, etc. Throughout the film many inappropriate and uncomplimentary words were used to label African Americans as being uneducated, unmotivated, lazy and uncivilized human beings. In the 1940’s the dominant social group, being the “white” Americans began brainwashing people with hatred towards African Americans through the various strands of propaganda. To substantiate the “white” Americans prejudices, they would try to convince others in the way of how an African American male or female looked by exaggerating their facial features, skin color, no educational accomplishment and the way they acted by putting attention on their low social and economic standings. Marlon Riggs, the director of this documentary shows us children’s books for educational purposes in which African Americans are called ‘niggers,’ as if that is exactly how we are to address them. One children’s book was brought to our attention in the film, “Seven Little Niggers,” the content and illustrations were not only cruel but for a children’s book, they were appalling. The documentary demonstrates that throughout cartoons in the 1940’s and so would have very stereotypical names for those in the cartoons, i.e. Mammy, Auntie, Uncle, boy, girl,...
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