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The Stereotypical Black Woman Essay

2476 words - 10 pages

Images in media, television especially, are a direct projection of the people who control and project them, which often tends to be white people. “‘We face the problems of images projected by people not of us,’ she said. ‘The media is the most powerful mind-manipulating tool on the earth.’”(Ruby, 18) The perception of black women in the media today can be damaging to the self-image of the young black women of today. During the Black Arts Movement, many artists and poets spoke of how white influence in our lives has created skewed beauty ideals in the African-American community. This white influence tends to harm black women’s images of themselves. Most female images seen in mainstream media are white, thin, tall and just plain gorgeous, making it hard for the average African American woman to relate to. Black television has done well with having different shapes and sizes for women of color to relate to, but that only includes one or two channels on all of television. For example, even though BET was founded by Robert Johnson, a black man, BET is now predominantly owned by white people. “"Day after day, in all forms of media -- print, radio, and television -- we see, hear, and read the perspectives of non-Black women and women of color who are not actively involved in the struggles of Black women -- especially on so-called 'women's issues'.”(Women’s Health Weekly, 546) Large television networks must choose to show things that will not only keep ratings up but also keep people interested in watching their shows. Unfortunately in today’s age and day drama and negativity is what most Americans look to watch. Even though many people feel that these negative things are wrong, we still find ourselves watching and reading about it. These stereotypes are not something new but stem from images in the past. Stereotypical images have become popular in our society which leads to higher ratings on television networks and that’s where the damage begins. These higher ratings and stereotypical images lead to a damaging self-image of black women.
African American women are commonly portrayed as three different stereotypes which can be extremely harmful to the self-image of many black women. “Through history, culture, and media, Black women have most often been portrayed in some combination of three images: (1) as highly maternal, family oriented, and self-sacrificing Mammies; (2) as threatening and argumentative Sapphires; and (3) as seductive, sexually irresponsible, promiscuous Jezebels.”(West, 1) The stereotypical black woman is also often loud, angry, and over the top, which has been used to add humor to today’s television programming and a lot of today’s media. Even though today, images of black women are more common than in the past the same stereotypes remain.
The mammy can often be seen as asexual, larger dark skinned black women who takes on a no nonsense maternal role. “Mammy, one of the most pervasive images of Black women, originated in the South...

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