Byron Williams
Jillian Weber
19 April 2013
ENGL 102
Essay 3
Media culture heavily influences those who consume it. It is how we get our news, entertainment, and other information. Media sources often portray accurate images and reflections of citizens who want their “15 minutes of fame” or just want their opinion heard. However, the more modern depiction of Black people in America doesn’t sit well with Black people in America. As an African American male, I witness the misconstrued images of black men and women tarnish the reality of our everyday lives. Those seen on TV are glorified more often than criticized, and can be humorous to other viewing races. This allows members of other ethnicities to quickly generalize that “he/she must be like the people I see on television.” Sadly, this opens the door for more racial assumptions and the perpetuation of common stereotypes.
Before extensively detailing how the inaccurate portrayal of African Americans has been a tool for racism, let me commend those who have done their part in displaying excellence and high standards for being an African American. Professional Black actors and entertainers are among the most monitored and scrutinized within black media culture. Music and television almost controls our opinions and as it changes, sure enough so do we. These people are seen as role-models young children who absorb even the slightest things they do. Positive black mentors aren’t tough to find in the media, but those identified will be placed under a more sensitive microscope. This is because African American citizens realize the dire need for positive influences; our present and our future are greatly dependent upon it.
Oprah Winfrey is the ideal African American woman in today’s society. She is completely independent, has a warm personality, brings humorous energy, and quietly-kept sexual desires. Since her rise to power, she has “feminized the public sphere” and put emphasis on emotions and how they tie into corporal matters. Her following is cult-like and she is seen as the most powerful woman outside of the White House. As much as America adores Ms. Winfrey, black women are the most misperceived demographic in our country. Black women were once thought of as strong, nurturing females who could stretch a penny. For example, the 70s family sitcom Good Times was about a black Chicago family faced with poverty and racism; yet they manage to pull through and stay together. They show expresses humility in African Americans, reminding us either of how bad things can get or to appreciate life’s free gifts (family, love, freedom). The mother of the show was named Florida Evans. She is hard-working and persistent enough to keep the family satisfied and sane. To viewing American , Florida, but more importantly, black women were seen as “mammy”—the big-bosomed, cheerful laughing caretaker to whom young white children could go to and have their problems wiped away by a few words and a hug. It was during this time when Black women were treasures in American society and they were the biggest contributors to love that the country had ever seen.
Even with Oprah sitting on her throne as “queen of the media” and Florida Evans’ history as the backbone of a family, there still resides detest for our women. From advertisements that make darker skin seem ugly, to psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, claiming that black women are ugly due to high testosterone levels, this country hates black women. Once perceived as optimal maternal figures, black women are known as “ratchets”, “tricks”, and (the big one) “bitches.” How the change in perception occurred is vaguely known but the consequences of this change are crippling African American women of all ages. This shift in thinking has forced Black women out of the conversation about how they should be shown and how they should act. Despite Oprah claiming that every woman’s destiny is in her own hands, black women no longer control who they are.
The VH1 reality show Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta has been a favorite for Black people across America and continues into its second season this week. Clearly the series is tailored to African American requests by involving hip hop, Atlanta luxury, and beautiful black women. Cameras follow the lives of different individuals and couples who all interact with each other.