Ethnic Notions

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Christa Bing
11-22-10
History 1110
Dr. Erin Matthews

Ethnic Notions
Ethnic Notions is a documentary directed by Marlon Riggs. The title itself explains what the movie is about-impressions of race. Throughout the documentary, Riggs presents the history of stereotypes and shows how they still exist. In today’s society we have become so accustomed with stereotypes that they are considered normal. The movie Ethnic Notations introduces the problem of stereotypes by explaining their origin and history, giving examples, and showing how they still exist today, so that we are no longer fooled and unaware of stereotyping and racism. During the early and mid 1900’s black people were depicted on television and media as ignorant, ugly, violent and inferior to white people. These negative, degrading and horrible images of black people over time shaped people’s views and thoughts about black people and this was how stereotypes were created. Media used caricatures which are exaggerated representations of people to get racist views across to white and black American people. One example of a caricature is The Sambo. The Sambo was a caricature created to depict the black male as being lazy, child like ignorant and care-free making the black male seem more like a child than a male. Another example of a racist caricature is pickaninnies which are black children. Pickaninnies were depicted as ugly kids with rough wooly hair, big eyes, dark black skin, big mouths and bright red lips. Pickaninnies often resembled animals in children cartoons and were viewed as savage by white people. One of the most popular caricatures of the 1900’s is the mammie caricature. The Mammie was an older black woman who took care of the white man’s family. Mammies were shoed as loving mother figures who were fat black and unattractive. Mammies were created to show that some blacks were happy as slaves and loved black people. These stereotypes were disturbing, degrading and in most cases poor...
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