African American Studies
8 September 2014
Ethnic Notions Video Reflection
The ‘Ethnic Notions’ video helped to broaden my understanding of the depictions of black Americans during the era of slavery and post emancipation. Caricatures of black Americans portrayed them as jolly people, who enjoyed serving others full-time, with little to no time for themselves. Because this was the way in which they were portrayed by society, whites truly believed that they were that way. The video highlighted several prominent African Americans from this era. T.D. Rice was a white man who had the alias of a black Ethiopian man. Every time he was on stage he painted his face with black paint and possessed the demeanor of a black man. The Jim Crowe Character was an exaggerated black man; crippled, with no intentions of presenting the truth about blacks. Hattie McDonald, motherly black woman, presented as happy, docile, loyal and protective. Presented as the controller of the family, contradictory to what society normally expects. The various black characters that were presented to us in the video helped to explain to us why society had the mindset they did. Birth of a Nation period starting in 1915, Emancipation was viewed as a tragic mistake. This portrayed blacks poorly. After this film, lynching increased. Blacks who had grown up after the Civil War were reputable for being vicious and violent. Artwork of black children portrayed them to be dirty, and animal-like. Once the height of the Emancipation period ended, blacks were able to play themselves in the menstrual stage. However, they still had to wear black face paint. The blacks perceived this opportunity as a way out of hunger. It was ironic in the fact that it was their way into the workforce, however, a perpetuation of a stereotype. Blacks were told that if they proved to whites what their society was all about, they would finally become accepted. A few well-known black menstruals were...
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