Ethnic Notions: Racial Stereotypes

Words: 452
Pages: 2

In the documentary Ethnic Notions, director Marlon Riggs speaks about many racist stereotypes that exist for African Americans. He shows how these stereotypes came to be through propaganda of the media as a means of justifying unjust and often cruel treatment of African Americans. These stereotypes and the cartoons where use against the Black people so that the rest of the White population would support the idea of the institution of slavery and from this existing stereotypes see Blacks as brutes, animal like, and savages. In racist propaganda of African Americans, facial features were extremely altered and changed. This was done to create the social norm that blacks are ugly. It was done to such a great extent that their “ugliness” became …show more content…
The “sambo” represented the childish, happy, and simple-minded black slave. It portrayed slaves as happy and therefore justified, for whites, their enslavement. The “mammy” is the second stereotype, which portrays the slave woman or nanny as fat, soulful, and happy. Ironically, in the post-civil war era, how the portrayed Blacks changed the opposite. Now African Americans were depicted as violent, aggressive, dangerous, and criminals. The reason for the switch was to give the dominant white “race” cause to criticize the abolition of slavery and justify the brutal torment and killing of blacks that was to come. Now that blacks were “free” they were no longer docile and childish, but criminal monsters who posed a threat to others’ safety. Clearly the racist attitudes existed before the propaganda, and this was used as a means to distort society’s views in order to best serve the interests of the white “race”. It would be altered depending on the times and what they wanted people to believe. Unfortunately, the stereotypes depicted in this film still exist in society today. An example of a stereotype that we see a lot of in today’s society is, African American men and women are often unfairly accused of a crime due to was society perceives them as. They are seen by many Americans as being dangerous and criminal. In recent time there have been many incidents of black being hurt, imprisoned, or even killed simply because the color of their skin. This is a great example of the harmful causes that propaganda has on people of color and how it needs to