Monday, February 25, 2013

Black Folk Don't

In Whites of Their Eyes, Hall (1981) described the effect media play in transforming and reinforcing racist ideologies and stereotypes. He suggested that racist ideologies are collective and unconscious processes, not isolated concepts originating solely in the minds of individuals. According to Hall, racism in media can be overt or inferential. Overt racism might come in the form of giving open or favorable platforms to individuals with racist opinions, while inferential racism is more subtle and subconscious. Inferential racism might resemble a television program that presents a particular race in an overly simplified and generalized manner. If the only news about a particular race, for example, is negative, then imagery of those situations reinforce already negative stereotypes. Inferential racism creates what Hall described as unquestioned assumptions about individuals without unpacking what those assumptions are predicated on. According to Hall, “ideologies tend to disappear from view into the taken-for-granted, ‘naturalized’ world of common sense” (p.19). The result creates a deep ambivalence about racial stereotypes.

Much of the media that Hall referred to was television and movies. The shift to network communication likely creates forums for challenging a lot of traditionally held stereotypes. Just as one example I came across this web series called “Black Folk Don’t”. Every webisode focuses on one stereotype about black culture, and subtly challenges viewers to think about the way they construct their identities and how some stereotypes create self-fulfilling prophecies. The clips are entertaining, and often thought-provoking.

Hall, S. (1981). The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media, in Dines, G. and Humez, J. (eds.) (2003). Gender, race, and class: A text-reader, pp. 89-94,Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the Black Folk Don't clip. I lived with two black girls during an internship I had in Georgia in 2002 and they were always saying that the actions of a few black people were usually generalized to all black people.