African American Image in Mass Media

By July 17, 2017 Media



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There has been a cardinal concern over the representation of the African American in the media mainstream of the American Culture. In itself, representation is defined as the building through any signifiers of the world aspect that uses people, topographic points, events, objects or even cultural individualities as abstract constructs in the media. The representations may take the signifier of address or authorship and may every bit good take the signifier of gesture images. The minorities have non ever been represented in the media in a positive manner. Notably, the representation of the African Americans has propagated some contention and an history of misconstrued images of what being an African American agencies. The argument over the ownership diverseness that affects the variegation of content is a lending factor to the feeling that there requires to be an Afro-american ownership to the media for the representation of the African Americans. Coover ( 2001 ) stated that if white Americans were answered what they think of African americans on Television, frequent spectators of Television think of them as nonreader, non smart and slightly sulky. This happens to be a mere stereotype that is more frequently than non used to stand for the African Americans. Assorted types of media including Television have continuously depicted this unfair and unrealistic characteristic about the African Americans over the old ages.

Literature Review

A research conducted in 1986 on how the prime-time telecasting shows portrayed the African Americans from 1955 showed that there were merely a 6 % African American characters while White characters took the 89 % . The figure of these African American characters with high school sheepskin was 49 per centum while 47 per centum had low economic positions. Balkaran ( 1999 ) implied that media had divided the working category and the immature African American males to be either mobsters or drug traders. This intervention of these young persons crushes the chances that the immature African Americans have on holding a hereafter with employment and progressing themselves. The most focussed issues in the black community are the negative issues like drug maltreatment, condemnable activities and the maltreatment of public assistance as they try to keep the rhythm of poorness that the elect approve.

Black situation comedies were comparatively popular as they grew extensively in the 1970’s. Examples of these include the “In Living Color” , “Populating Single” and “Good Timess” . They provided more exposure to the African Americans to the universe of Television while showing assorted functions for the black people. However, they did non stop up being financially honoring as the white shows would, e.g. “Friends ” .The “Small Black Sambo” was a children’s book where the supporter is a South Indian male child that encounters four hungry Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelams, and he surrenders his new apparels, places and umbrella for his life. The cats play around a tree until they are reduced to melted butter, and Sambo can retrieve his apparels, and his female parent makes battercakes with the butter. The “Little Black Sambo” is said to show a stiff and reductive stereotyping. Back in 1935 it was seen as unoffending amusement.

Another illustration of how African Americans are unjustly displayed on the intelligence is the coverage that was done in the L.A public violence of 1992. The study was slightly subjective to and do it look as if the black community was to fault for the public violences, but studies indicated that this was nevertheless non true. Equally much as the larger per centum of the population that rioted was the Hispanics and the Whites, 36 % of the people that were imprisoned were of the Black community. The racial favoritism that came with the bias of the 1992 intelligence about the public violences was non a alone happening. The Entman-Rojecki ( 2001 ) Index of Race and Media makes a claim that the African American mug shooting is more likely to look on Television instead than a White’s. It besides holds that dark-coloured persons have higher opportunities of being displayed while restrained than they would make to a white person.


Get downing with the commercialisation of the record player, Dates and Barlow traced the representation of the African American image through to the music industry, wireless, intelligence, telecasting and the advertising/ public dealingss industries. The dominate civilization uses these industries to keep an ideological hegemony in which the dominant white civilization has maintained the legitimacy of the inequality of category, race, gender and generational dealingss for the intent of commercial usage. The racial images that are used to give these positive and negative representations have been color-coded. Such illustrations include fresh amah who is pleased with a life of being a retainer while the white relish is the lone individual able to assist these hapless inkinesss. Once these symbols are accepted, they are subsequent to misconceptions and perpetuate the misinformation among racial, category and cultural lines.

It has been established that holding ownership in the media being broadcast aids command what base on ballss and besides tries assisting specify who and how people of different diverseness are being portrayed. Even in the ownership of media, there is a important underrepresentation of African Americans when it comes to having the media. Reports made by the free imperativeness that were headed“ Off the Dial ”studies of all the commercial broadcast wireless Stationss, African Americans merely have a 3.4 % . It is interesting to observe that the populations with big markets that consist of the African Americans are non correlated with the figure of black-owned systems. The trouble comes along with the barriers to capital entree and market entry. The Afro-american proprietors are buying broadcast Stationss in the lone topographic point they can which is in the Midwestern markets due to the sum of racism in the smaller southern communities where the black communities are the bulk population.

The typical sentiments are unfavourable and highlight the negative positions that are associated with the African Americans. The portraitures are normally really average like the telecasting and are the beginning of such stereotypes. Television has more frequently than non been cited for airing stuff that frequently displays an overrepresentation of the African Americans as violators. In the Ferguson instance, Mr. Wilson was convinced that he had acted out of self-defence when there was a directed onslaught from the adolescent Mr. Brown as the intelligence had explained. There was no grounds that was found in holding his custodies up at the clip, give uping to Mr. Wilson when he was killed and neither did he move out of racial prejudice. The News media have a considerable sum of prejudice at times when it comes to misinterpretation as this instance suggests. It was reported that the official release of the DOJ’s study confirmed that there were no charges that would be filed against Mr. Wilson. Harmonizing to Philips ( 2015 ) , CNN intelligence, another similar incident happened and was reported in the same manner. The shot of a 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a former vicinity ticker captain called George Zimmerman. The intelligence spread like bushfire from hitting the local intelligence to the national media. Since so, the killing both fascinated and repulsed the state at the same clip and societal issues, cultural, and racial that became a every night fresh fish that arose in several overseas telegram intelligence shows. The same opinion that no federal charges were passed to George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin Case.

John ( 2013 ) explains how James Eagan Holmes was the accused culprit of a mass hiting that killed 12 people at a film theatre at century Aurora, Colorado. He is a White person that was charged, and his hearings have been forcing his test day of the months. This is different from what the African American individual’s defences get. The first was canceled after the prosecuting officers claimed that they would seek the decease punishment that raised legion issues that had to be resolved before the test. The second was scratched after a 2nd re-evaluation was requested, and the 3rd was extended after the re-evaluation physician requested an extension. The saneness is an issue because his attorneies claimed that the issue was non whether he pulled the trigger but whether he was sane plenty at the clip to be punished for his actions. These new empirical provinces show that an underline a relentless form of racial disparities which has been looking all over the state over the past old ages.


Amongst the chief causes of the inappropriate coverage of the cardinal grounds for race-based overviews in America is that the province of black people by itself is non an issue of great attending to the white mainstream. Their engagement in black America is concentrated on conditions where their intended fright turns into an existent challenge. Activities such as boycotts, civil rights visual aspects, lookouts and particularly racial force indicate the degree at which Black America reaches “white ” attending. It is unsurprising that the white-absorbed mass media attempt to delight the wants of their white-colored audiences and mirror this sort of tendency to the chosen instances. Examinations of the relationship between race and the decease punishment have been done with thoroughness and with edification. Harmonizing to Richard ( 1998 ) , the higher reviews show a form of the being of a race of the victim or the race of the defendant favoritism or even both. The Race has been predicted to be more likely to impact the decease punishment as compared to other Fieldss. Dates and Barlow provide a supposed solution to the misunderstanding issue which starts with the control of the African American image and the African Americans taking it back. Once a more accurate representation is reconstructed ; the African American community will therefore be able to get down the undertaking of doing the mass media more congruent.


Balkaran, Steven ( 1999 ) : ”Mass Media and Racism” , Yale Political Quarterly, Volume 21, Number 1.

Coover, G ( 2001 ) : “Television and societal individuality: Race representation as “White” adjustment.” Journal of Broadcasting & A ; Electronic Media

Entman R. , Rojecki A. “The Entman-Rojecki Index of Race and Media” from “The Black Image in the White Mind” , University of Chicago Press, 2001

John Ingold ( 2013 ) : “Aurora theatre shot: bulls took pill bottles from Holmes’s flat.”

Phillip Swarts ( 2015 ) : “Darren Wilson cleared by theJusticeDepartmentin Ferguson Case” , The Washington Post.

Richard C. Dieter ( 1998 ) : “Death Penalty Information Center: Who lives, who dies, who decides.”


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