The Impact of the Violent African-American Stereotype in Rap Music

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This paper will show that the stereotype of the violent, criminal African-American portrayed in rap music lyrics can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for African-Americans. Repeated and long-term exposure to this stereotypical behavior in rap music lyrics can lead to increased aggression and this stereotype becoming accepted as a social norm by African-Americans. I intend to support my argument with examples and analysis of the violent African-American stereotype, and by explaining how the stereotype can become accepted as a social norm. The violence that permeates rap lyrics should come as no surprise because music is only one of the numerous forms of media, and violence in the media is often described as being too prevalent. The myth, “Media violence is only a reflection of violence in society,” can be refuted in different ways. One method is to use real world statistics of crime and violence and compare them to statistics of crime and violence in the media. An estimated 25 million acts of violence occur in television annually, compared to 1.5 million acts of violence in society (Potter 50). This comparison shows that “violent crime is much more frequent on TV than in real life” (Potter 50). Television depicts murder and assault as the two most frequent acts of crime, while real world statistics show that burglary and larceny “are the two most prevalent crimes” (Potter 50). The rates of violent crime in television news shows over-represent the rate of violent crime in the real world (Potter 56), and television news shows under-represent the percentage of male crime victims while over-representing the percentage of female crime victims. After examining these facts, it is obvious that the statement, “Medi... ... middle of paper ... ... viewed as what it is—a false representation of reality, instead of a true representation of rea Works Cited Bernd, Simon, and David L. Hamilton. “Self-Stereotyping and Social Context: The Effects of Relative In-Group Size and In-Group Status.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66.4 (1994): 699-711. Chappell, Kevin. “What’s wrong (and right) about black music.” Ebony September 1995: 25-28. Christenson, Peter G., and Donald F. Roberts. It’s Not Only Rock & Roll. New Jersey: Hampton Press, Inc., 1998. Ehrlich, Paul R. Human Natures. Washington, D.C.: Shearwater Books, 2000. Kitwana, Badari. The Rap on Gansta Rap. Chicago, Illinois: Third World Press, 1994. Potter, W. James. On Media Violence. California: Sage Publications, Inc., 1999. Steele, Claude. “A Threat in the Air.” American Psychologist 52 (May 1997): 613-627.

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