Negative Effects Of Black Men In The Media

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The Negative Portrayal of Black Men in the Media
Racial profiling and the idea that Black men are innately more threatening than White men is a phenomenon that shapes people’s daily behavior every day. Whether it be a storekeeper’s decision to keep a more watchful eye on an African American customer, or a woman crossing to the other side of the street when approaching a Black man, people are influenced heavily by the stereotype that African American men are more prone to violence and crime than White men. But, just why are Black men considered to be more threatening and violent than White men? Where did this idea come from? The answer, although complex, is largely related to the negative portrayal of Black men in the media and pop culture
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Across many platforms including television and film, African American men have been subjected to unfair and untrue representation. Starting from the beginning from 1910-1920, right after the Civil War, the majority of African Americans depicted in film were confined to demeaning “antebellum south” stereotypes. Many times white actors would portray Black characters using blackface, “a type of stage makeup that consisted of actors applying burnt cork, shoe polish, or various other products to their faces, along with emphasizing and exaggerating the hair and lips in order to imitate social assumptions regarding "African" physical features” (Mahar, 1999). They were most often portrayed as incompetent, child-like, hyper-sexualized, and criminal. Other roles that African Americans found themselves in were those of butlers, mammies, and servants, which reinforced the idea that Black people were second class citizens. Even in one of the most highly regarded films in American cinematography and the first film to have an African American win an Oscar, Gone With the Wind, the portrayal of African Americans was extremely offensive and demeaning (Marche). Moving forward, American media began to integrate more diverse opportunities for Black actors, although those opportunities were also plagued with controversial and stereotypical depictions. In conjunction with the Civil Rights Movement, Black actors fought for better representation and more screen time along white actors. Despite this push in the right direction, African Americans still found themselves confined to negative racial stereotypes. These stereotypes are at the forefront of American Media and pop culture

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