Media and Black Woman Portrayal
The never-ending issue on racial discrimination has taken its toll on Black women as the different forms of the media had produced quite racial insensitive outputs. We have seen different forms of discrimination that could either be intentional or not. This form of insensitivity to the Black women has a great impact on the social being of the Black women or the Blacks in general. Among the forms of media which have been guilty of imposing racial discrimination, perhaps, is the film industry which comes in the form of movies particularly in the United States.
Movies, as part of the very influential media have a crucial role in shaping public opinion on whatever subject that they would wish to portray. In the case of Black women, there have been a string of movies produced; some of which are discriminating and stereotyping in nature. In the United States, the physical characteristics of a person’s skin color determine the race of an individual. More often than not, the person’s color would determine what kind of treatment you would be getting from others or from the society as a whole. This perception on race has been a part of the history of the United States.
American history tells us that the reason behind this is the African slave trade . Over the years, there are several films which featured Black women. In the earliest decades, the blunt discrimination among the Blacks was undeniably evident. In these modern days, although not as blunt as before, there are still, of course, guilty of discriminating or stereotyping the Blacks—or the Black women in particular. Around 1800s, a film entitled “Mammy” was shown. “Mammy” was a dark skinned and a matronly dressed in a gaudy clothing, as well as genial and has a certain point of delusion.
In the South, the term “Mammy” was used as one of the variants to denote mother pertaining to the Blacks. Meanwhile, the Whites used the term “Mammy” to denote servants and black female slaves. When used today, the term “Mammy” could be considered as something derogatory. This is a clear manifestation on how discriminating not just the society could be but also the mass media. It is evident that even during the early centuries; there have been manifestations of discrimination among black women in the films that are produced. Although, it could be observed that the discrimination of today is not as cruel as before.
In addition, there minstrel sows during the earlier centuries which mocked and made fun out of the Blacks. Movies like the Birth of a Nation scrutinized whether the Blacks are indeed fir to run for public office to hold a position in the government and even if they deserve to cast their votes. Even if when the era of slavery already ended, the issue on the intellectual capacity of the Black never ceased. According to Lewis Terman in The Measurement of Intelligence (1916): “The Blacks are not educable using the rudiments of training.
It is almost impossible at present to convince the society that the Blacks should not be allowed to reproduce. ” The alarming discrimination imposed unto the Blacks calls for an immediate action. We should not just sit idle and perpetuate what has been a social ill. Race is but a natural component of the society. It is our differences which make our society dynamic and racial differences are part of those. In 2001, Save the Last Dance was shown to the public. Save the Last Dance is about the usual middle-class suburban white woman who goes out with a Black man in the inner city.
The movie basically revolved on tagging stereotypes on some of its characters. The “angry black woman” and “innocent white women” are among the stereotypes that were used. The Black women are projected negatively while the white women are projected positively. White men, with few exceptions such as Sara’s father, are hardly noticed in the inner city. The setting of the movie was in the South side. The area is basically predominantly a Black community in Chicago. She’s taken in by her father who is a musician who could hardly understand her. Their home was a flat one.
Meanwhile, while Sara was adapting to her new environment in the inner city, she went to Wheatley High which is a high school dominated by blacks. Students there were going in through metal doctors which were not done in her older school in Lemont, IL. This speaks very well on the racial disparities in the two neighborhood where she lived and lives. Derek is a hardworking student who is going to study in Georgetown to become a doctor. He wishes to become a pediatrician as soon as he graduates. The producers could have opted to portray a studios and honorable Black.
But then, the producers chose the usual stereotype that Blacks are thuggish in nature, which is of course not true. The Black women that were in the movie were portrayed negatively in general. They are always described as unhappy and always angry. Sara based her belief in just her own perception that everyone lives in the world. He told her that she was wrong and told her about the world and the people living in it. Sara did not imagine that kind of world. It is a world full of people who have racial differences many of them are in the working classes and poor.
The areas of the Blacks have fewer amenities than in the area of the Blacks. Also, it is a place in which people are being abused by others. One problem that could be inferred from the movie is that Sara was morally superior among the black women in their place. The society see the inner city as “hopeless” and an area full of poor people who could almost be equated as an area full of criminals, prostitutes bums, and even drug addicts. These views are usually stated by those politicians who wish to get another term in the public office.
One instance is when former United States president Ronald Reagan said that the poor black women are the ones who should be blamed on the scam related to the middle and upper class taxpayers. Thus, many of those who belong to the middle-class voters believed Reagan’s claim. They concluded that poor Black women and the Blacks in general are trying to destroy their comfortable American life. In one of the scenes in the movie, Sara gave a short glace to the mothers outside the doctor’s office after her friend explained some realities about life or the discussion and argument between Derek and her about their future together.
Earlier shown in the film was Sara who dismisses the opposition with her relationship with Derek. She showed off her affection with Derek in the subway where the disapproval of white women was manifested. But the opposition of the Blacks with their being together was a big issue for her. She seems to be clueless of the realities that the color of the people is judged by the society in everyday life. On the other hand, there were a handful of films that were produced to somewhat showcase a different kind of theme.
Different from the usual theme of American films, a handful of film makers tried to explore the other side of the fence where Black women would be treated just right—without imposing any sort of discrimination. Between the period of 1920s and 1940s, the so-called “race movies” were produced by Hollywood movies, which tried to change the negative and limited portrayal of the Blacks. Such films helped lift up the fame of some noted black directors such as Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams, Jr. In 1944, the movie “Go Down Death” was produced.
It was about a tragic folk drama which featured all Blacks as casts. Along with this is Blood of Jesus. We could only count the number of movies produced which are in favor of the Black women or of the Blacks in general. Sometimes, the media is too reluctant to admit that it plays a very crucial role in imposing racial discrimination. Not just in films or movies but also in print media, and others, Blacks are more often than not portrayed negatively. Conclusion Personally speaking, I do not comprehend the justified reason behind treating the Blacks or the Black women particularly differently.
All I know is that we are all equal in the society regardless of the race that we have. Skin color could never be a determining factor on a person’s integrity and character. In a society like the United States, some people are too guilty which makes discrimination more rampant. Black women or the Blacks in general should be respected on whatever race they may have. It is appalling how the media perpetuates the discrimination towards the other races in the society through presenting distorted facts about a certain group of people. We know how powerful the media could be in shaping the minds of the people.
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