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Racism in the American Mass Media

Racism in the American Mass Media
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  The Hague Universty of Applied Sciences Expert Analysis 1 Racism in the American Mass Media Lecturer: Mr. Mirad Böhm Student: Madalina Papoiu, 13037978 Date: October 31 st , 2014  The Hague Universty of Applied Sciences Expert Analysis 2 Introduction Alex Haley, the author of the famous bestseller, ‘’Roots’’ used to say that ‘’’Racism is taught in our society, (…)  towards persons with dissimil ar physical characteristics’’. Racism is a  present issue and racism in mass media is a reality in the United States; famous brands such as Cheerios and Disney use it as a tool while written media subtly shape perceptions regarding racial differences. Mass media is regarded as responsible for how the Caucasian population of the United States perceive African Americans. (Cazenave, 2002, p. 8) For instance, the United States of America is a racially diverse and cosmopolite society. Nevertheless, on the basis of its significantly rich ethnical diversity, racism is a common issue. (Gardner, 2010) In fact, history indicates that the most discriminated against are African-Americans and media is held responsible for encouraging racist attitudes among US citizens which contributed to the African-Americans being discriminated against. (Dijk, 1987) The current piece of writing is aimed at arguing the claim according to which racism does exist in the US media. However, the purpose is that of acknowledging the readers by means of arguments as result of extensive desk research. The report consists of five paragraphs; the first one introduces and defines the topic by means of the thesis statement, the second one consists of the research question, the third and forth paragraphs, entitled ‘’Audio - Visual Media’’   and ‘’Written Media’’   present arguments in favor of the claim supported by examples. Also, opposite points of view are taken into account and discussed throughout the paragraphs ‘’Audio - Visual Media’’   and ‘’Written Media’’  . The last paragraph represents the conclusion where the main points are summarized. Research question The research question is ’’ How do US media shape the image of African- Americans?’’.  Consequently, the answer to the question will be provided in the following three paragraphs supported by evidence. Audio-visual media The most popular tool for spreading racism is television. (Dijk, 1987) It is the most effective way for sending subliminal messages which are detrimental to African-Americans. Some  people, regardless of their racial belonging are deeply disturbed by the biased position of TV commercials such as Cheerios’.  People are told that cereals are beneficial to their health. Furthermore, one of the advertisements of Cheerios indicates that cereals are even more  beneficial to African-Americans than other ethnic groups. To explain it briefly, the  The Hague Universty of Applied Sciences Expert Analysis 3 commercial depicts an interracial couple with a mixed female child; while the Caucasian woman is  preoccupied by the little girl’s education  whereas, the African-American man is resting on a sofa, completely disconnected from the surroundings. Suddenly, the little girl makes a cereal heart shaped form on the chest of the sleeping man. The morale here being that despite the genetic predisposition of African-Americans to heart diseases triggered by lack of  physical activity and inadequate diet, Cheerios will build a shell that will protect the heart. The commercial triggered myriad reactions from the public sphere, both positive and negative. Besides, while some people thought it was an entertaining commercial, others regarded it as offensive and highly racist. (Blake, 2013) Another aspect to consider is the racism hidden in animated productions. Of course, some people will not agree and others might feel that too much attention is being given to analyzing the hidden of TV productions where there is none except from pure entertainment. For instance, one of the most loved corporations in the world, Disney also faced accusations for discriminating against African- Americans in their productions. Allegedly, ’’Song of the South’’ and ’’The Princess and the Frog’’ explicitly contain highly racist elements.   ’’The Princess and the Frog’’ depicts the only two African-American men from the movie as not being able to provide for the family (Tiana’s father) and the evil character (Dr. Facilier) while the charming prince is a Caucasian man. (Sastry, 2012) The young audience is subjected to distorted perceptions regarding  people of other race. In spite of that, Disney claimed that the two productions were not aimed at subjecting any ethic group to unfair treatment and they argued that the entire strategy  behind the productions was based exclusively on offering quality entertainment. Written media According to   Bernard Cohen the world looks different to different people ’’  (Cohen, 1963, p. 13).   The press is poured with examples that continue to encourage people to discriminate  based upon race. Advertisements with inadequate content are printed and posted on regular  basis, which shows that stereotypes and racism are still prevalent in our everyday thinking. The research conducted indicates that media portrays even sports people differently depending on their race. This aspect shows that their performance in the field of sports is subordinated to race. (Derse, 1995)To exemplify, in numerous occasions both glossy and sports magazines depict athletes in a stereotypical manner: Caucasian athletes are presented as calm and thrust worthy people with a serene facial expression and impeccable body posture, while African-American athletes are pictured as fretful, bad-tempered and even aggressive  The Hague Universty of Applied Sciences Expert Analysis 4  people. (The Sport Digest, 2010) The reason might be represented by the knowledge that African- American’s ancestry can be traced back to the African continent, a place of wilderness and the silent assumptions develop as it follows: Africa, scarce, underdeveloped, wild, dangerous, uncivilized, et cetera. By following this line of stereotypes people are  provided with biased images. (Sports in Black and White, 2012)  Conclusion To sum up, media does contribute to racism against African-Americans though many elements such as TV shows, cartoons, magazines, news papers and commercials which exploit race and stereotypes that are to be funny. However biased attitudes and discrimination are never funny. There is racism in US media because media is responsible for the information that a society uses and bases its knowledge, attitude and behavior upon. (Troyana, 1981) From commercials we learn that African-American men are lazy people, fans of sofas and suffering from high blood pressure. Meanwhile, Disney production ’’The Princess and the Frog’’ depicts the only two African -American men from the movie as not able to provide for the family (Tiana ’ s father) and the evil character (Dr. Facilier) while the charming prince is a Caucasian man. From magazines we learn that African-American athletes are aggressive while Caucasian athletes are calm and the media is full of other examples. (The Sport Digest, 2010) US Media shape perceptions, build attitudes and encourage opinions which in most cases are detrimental to Africa-Americans because their inner qualities and attributes are subordinated to ‘’dissimilar physical characteristics’’ compared to those of Cau casian people. (BBC News Magazine, 2012) As a result of analyzing and assessing sources, the claim that there is racism in US media has been proved because there is no thing as the universal truth. The best solution is to focus more on knowing and acknowledging situations accurately and not always fitting them into a modus operandi of racial behavior. Besides, this approach shows a basic misunderstanding of what the effects can be in the long run. Human beings are similar, the same and unique and they must be regarded and treated at such by the media in general and US media in particular. There is no valid reason for perpetuating images of individuals based on racial sketches which have been proved numerous times incorrect and morally wrong. All these being said, will there be a time when media will be absolved of  guilt  ? Hopefully, yes.  The Hague Universty of Applied Sciences Expert Analysis 5 Works Cited BBC News Magazine. (2012, November 27).  BBC News Mgazine . Retrieved September 15, 2014, from BBC: Blake, M. (2013, June 02). Cheerios commercial target of racist abuse . Retrieved September 27, 2014, from Daylu Mail: Cazenave, K. J. (2002). Welfare Racism.  New York. Derse, E. (1995). The Portrayal of Race, Ethnicity and Nationality in Televised International  Athleti Events.  Dijk, T. A. (1987). Mediating racism The role of the media in the reproduction of racism. In T. A. Dijk,  Mediating racism  (pp. 202-205). Franz, G. B. (2014, April 30). CNN U.S.  Retrieved October 04, 2014, from CCN: Gardner, J. (2010, March 18). The ''Post-Racial'' Mainstream Media and The New American Racism.  Huffpost New York   , p. 1. Sastry, K. (2012, June 1). Shame on Hollywood  . Retrieved September 23, 2014, from Business Insider: Sports in Black and White. (2012, December 5). Sports in Black and White . Retrieved September 22, 2014, from Media Depiction of Black Athlets: black-athletes/ The Sport Digest. (2010).  Media's Effect on Perceptions of Athletes's Gender and Race.  Retrieved September 29, 2014, from The Sport Digest: Troyana, B. (1981).  Public Awareness and the Media:A study on reporting on race.  London.
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