Black Man Standing: The Media’s Portrayal of African-American Men
Documentation Style: MLA
Name and Description of Target Audience: Readers of the Chicago Tribune Guest Editorial Section
Forum/Genre Paper Would Take in Target Publication: Guest Editorial in the Chicago Tribune
Brief Description of Assignment and Instructor Expectations for Critical Thinking: 4 page paper with a 2 source minimum, evaluating media in the terms of values it reinforces or resists, and the consequences this has on specific subgroups or cultures.
The media has a powerful influence in the everyday thoughts and lives of Americans. Most Americans wake up in the morning and turn on the ...view middle of the document...
Black men are shown less often in the media, especially on primetime TV, but when they are shown you can almost always fit them into one of three categories; 1.) Comedian, 2.) Angry/Jaded, or 3.) Gangster/Thug. Do we as the viewers ever ask ourselves why black males seem to be getting so embarrassingly over-typecast? Many people don’t see a problem with this stereotyping because they feel that these in fact are accurate depictions. And that leads us to the chicken and the egg question: Do people believe these stereotypes because that’s what they are shown, or are these stereotypes being shown because that’s what people believe? Either way the depiction is inaccurate, and is leading to a perpetuation of this narrow view of black men. It’s even harder to believe how long this has persisted when we take into consideration that African Americans watch more television than any other racial or ethnic group in America (Kunjufu 54). So why aren’t there more black characters on primetime TV’s big three networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS)? There are primetime programs aimed primarily at African American’s like The Jamie Foxx Show, The Wayans Brothers, and The Hughleys featured on secondary networks like the WB (Warner Brother’s Network) and UPN (United Paramount Network); however these shows premises are comedic and keep in the tradition of featuring the leading characters in clownish and slapstick black performances ( Hamer 23). There is one current show on primetime TV (NBC) aimed at African American’s called My Wife and Kids, starring Damon Wayans, but again this show’s key objective is to make the audience laugh. Black men have received some dramatic, recurrent roles on primetime TV; ER, Chicago Hope, NYPD Blue, The Practice, and Law and Order for example; but these shows characters are often, if not always, portrayed as the “angry, disgruntled black man”, seeing themselves as separate from their white show counter-parts. As Hamer points out in her book What it Means to Be Daddy, strong black supportive characters on these TV shows “are often countered by a procession of black stock characters – junkies, woman abusers, and hoodlums” (23).
Not only is this stereotype and exclusion prevalent in primetime television, but, much more seriously, in our newspapers and television newscasts as well. Authors Steinhorn and Diggs – Brown state that “Even though most violent crimes are committed by people the same race as their victims, one 1994 study of local TV newscasts in Chicago found that the majority of perpetrators portrayed in the news were black or persons of color, while the majority of victims shown were white.” (154). This leads one to maybe see a causal effect of the wide-spread panic about black males being criminals that need to be feared and bewared whenever they are come into contact with. They also sited a different study that “found that the percentage of blacks shown as suspects on one...