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Media stereotypes of ‘blacks’: Myth or reality?

By Duru Zina

We keep talking about our journey to self-discovery and identity, but what if it keeps being hindered by the generalised views of what certain people are “BLACKS”?

In our world today, the media carries a strong influence in forming an opinion on an issue, or our views on particular groups of people. Communication research and theory suggests that mass media are an important source of information about Africans and the media portrayals contribute to public perceptions of them.

The media keeps portraying Africans and African Americans as a certain kind of people which has influenced how blacks are seen by other races. The media gives certain impressions and ideas about people of color as loud, violent, gamblers, and so on and this is evident in famous movies: A Raisin in the Sun, Titanic, and the list goes on, blacks are always used as the downing factors movies, and this portrays a type of superiority on us.

There are concerns on how this affects the blacks, one of the disadvantage is that it often reduces their self-esteem which sometimes lead to the blacks to think whites are more superior. These differences correlate with racial and gender practices in Hollywood, which casts white men as heroes, while erasing or subordinating other groups as villains, sidekicks and sexual objects.

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Media images that are popular can have a negative impact on white’s perceptions of people of color and racial stereotypes in film and television can exacerbate preexisting racist fears. When there is lack of contact between racial groups, people tend to rely on media stereotypes to formulate ideas outside people of their own race. For instance stereotypes depictions of Africans in the media can lead audiences to associate immigration with increased unemployment and crime, and this affects both boys and girls.

Diversity is a keyword in media life but full participation by people of color continues to lag behind that of white males. The Medias require better strategies. In the area of entertainment, studios can work to diversify employment and content by establishing responsibility structures including specific committees, staff, positions and having plans dedicated to increasing representation of people of color. People of color should also be represented in the good aspect of life on any role at all they have to play.


Zina is a 200-level student of Babcock

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