October 15, 2013

The Negative Stereotypes of African American Women in the Media

FROM  feministing.com -- The Melissa Harris Perry show on MSNBC highlighted a recent study by Essence Magazine. The study following nearly 1,200 women who kept a visual diary of the depictions of African American women in media and ranked if the characterizations of black women were balanced.

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Not surprising, the study (available in the November issue of Essence) shows that the majority of imagery associated with African American women is heavily negative (nearly 85% of respondents recorded negative depictions) and rooted in stereotypes, falling into categories of “gold diggers,” “jezebels,” “angry black women,” and “uneducated.”

Rightly, Melissa Harris Perry wonders out loud if the the humanity of the “baby mamas”–or rather the complexities of African American lives in general–gets lost in the sea of respectability politics, becoming an “invisible middle.” It’s a great panel that cracks the surface of the very imbalanced presentation of American black lives in television, a coda to recent critiques of this year’s Emmys, and worthy of a much longer conversation.

Television certainly doesn’t reflect the rich and multidimensional narratives of African American people (people of color really) save the high stakes dramas by the most successful show runner in television today. She just happens to be black.

That show runner would happen to be Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the television series “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”  Read more of this story at feministing.com ...

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