What are some of the general depictions of African American (male, female) and African culture in the mass media?
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Mass media has, up to recently, depicted the African American people to be less intelligent people who are practically simpletons who may violent tendencies. Trailer trash depictions of their lifestyle and outlook in life were often seen as the reality of these people by the viewers, thus affecting the image of the race across the board. Men were abusive, violent, and criminal by nature while the women were portrayed as abused, long-suffering, lowly educated, almost unemployable individuals. But thanks to top TV show hits like Grey’s Anatomy, 24 (wherein an African American president was portrayed even before the election of Barack Obama), and The Event, African Americans are now being depicted as the equal of the White Americans in every single way. Able to carry out duties as complicated as leading a nation out of a fictional terrorist attack, all the way to firing up that barbecue grill and cooking up a feast.
How do these mass media depictions influence norms, values, beliefs, and language to African Americans?
When the African Americans were being depicted as the “not smart nor intelligent” dark-skinned members of America by the media, African Americans were reacting in two different ways. Some chose to make the negative and derogatory portrayals a reality in their lives. Then we also have the African Americans who chose to struggle to prove to everyone that what they saw on TV was nothing more than a writer’s overactive imagination or propaganda material. So you might say that these negative and derogatory portrayals made them want to become better people and show it off. These days, we have more Black people in college completing degrees, speaking in an educated (non-slang) manner, with the self-confidence to show the media that it is time to retire the typecast roles that have long been assigned to them.
Why is there less mention of people like W.E.B. Du Boi and George Washington Carver and more media mention of other African Americans?
W.E.B. Du Boi and George Washington Carver represent the embodiment of the hardships that the African Americans had to overcome when they were struggling for equality. At the time that they wrote their books and articles, the media of their time found their points of view to be explosive and possible instigators of unrest. So, their work was constantly mentioned by the media of their time as a point of discussion. Over time, the situation of the African Americans began to change politically and socially, thus making their arguments for African American rights moot and academic. That is why their work slowly found itself on the backburner. As the times changed, the problems of the African Americans also evolved, so more prominent African American rights fighters like Rev. Jesse Jackson began to take center stage. These new African American rights fighters know the modern problems of their race and know how to keep themselves media relevant in their continued struggle for equality and rights.