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The Perpetuation Of Negative Images Of African Americans Through Mass Media

1691 words - 7 pages

The Perpetuation of Negative Images of African Americans through Mass Media
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Why as white people have we been lulled into thinking its safe to be around other white people. Why have we been taught since birth that it’s the people of that other color we need to fear? They’re the ones that will slit your throat (Moore 57). The mass media has played and will continue to play a crucial role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. As a result of the overwhelming media focus on crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior among African-Americans, the media is fostering a distorted public perception of African-Americans. Looking at past examples of African Americans treatment in the media, one can see that the media has become the main perpetrator through which oppression, discrimination and the treatment of African Americans as second class citizens is carried out.

As a result of this media bias, white America has suffered from a deep uncertainty as to who African-Americans really are. The media stereotype of bad guys wearing black or that anything that is black is evil has been fostered for decades. Looking at one of the oldest sources in the media (the dictionary) you clearly see racist overtones in the definitions of any words starting with black or white. Black is defined as opposite to white, African American, soiled or stained, and evil or wicked just to name a few of the definitions (Webster 68). I believe this not only fosters a subconscious negative view of African Americans, but also makes many white people think they are some how better than blacks. The defense put on by the four white Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King in 1991, and the recent case in Ohio, are very telling of this. They claimed that they were scared and felt they might have been attacked or even killed (88). This is a legitimate excuse in a white American society that perpetuates negative images of African Americans. Whites have come to believe that their life is in danger every time they’re confronted with a black person and that some how their life is worth more than a black person’s life. Their fear and their bias is a manifestation of a deep-rooted media bias that anything black is bad and anything white is pure and good. This media bias has also been illustrated in the Susan Smith case. Smith was the South Carolina woman who made headlines when she claimed that a black male kidnapped her two young children. It turned out that Smith herself had killed them. However, the finger pointing that her accusations set off show precisely the media’s influence on white America and the media’s push to blame African Americans (the bad guys) for social ills. This same reflex can also be seen in many other cases in American history.

“I turn on the news each night and what do I see again and again? African Americans alleged to be killing, raping, mugging, stabbing, gangbanging,...

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