Literature Review: African American Stereotype

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Perception of Black American Stereotypes in Mass Media

Derogatory images of minority groups remain a commonplace in society despite marked improvements in white Americans’ racial attitudes over the last several decades. Social, ethnic, and racial stereotypes, the ‘‘pictures in the head’’ that members of one group form of other groups, are often uncomplimentary, for, in addition to their purely cognitive function, they are motivated by an ethnocentric bias to enhance one’s own group and to disparage out-groups (Sigelman 1997). Popular culture is an exceptional means for gaining an insight into what masses of people are thinking, feeling, and dreaming (Lemons 1977). Historically, the media has depicted highly negative images of Blacks. Prior the late 1900’s, whites constructed entertainment media with a white audience in mind. Because of this, whites were depicted in the most flattering of ways, where as other minorities, primarily Negroes, were depicted in a harsh and negative light. Mass produced music, cheap magazines, comics, and mass circulation of newspapers began to circulate in the 1890’s allowing for black stereotypes in popular culture to be seen nationally. This literature review will serve as an exploration of black stereotypes as depicted in mass media.

Black’s Perception of White Stereotypes on Blacks
Stereotypes in general serve to “reinforce the beliefs and disbeliefs of its users” as well as provide “solidarity for the prejudiced.” White Americans’ negative stereotypes of blacks have softened as racial attitudes in the United States have become liberalized. Negative stereotypes of blacks can promote white resistance to neighborhood integration and lessen support of equal opportunity and multiculturalism. While addressing stereotypes, it is important to address not only public perception, but perception of one’s own group as seen by other racial groups. In particular with this case, it is important to observe how blacks...
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