The Perception of African Americans in the Media and How it Affects Their Self-Identity

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The Perception of African Americans in the Media and How it Affects Their Self-Identity There has been much debate over the perception of African Americans in the media and how it affects their self-identity. It is easy to find examples of bias in portraying African Americans, but not a lot of causal research to prove that it causes problems with self-identity. A case can even be made that the amount of media presence by African Americans, whether biased or un-biased, has greatly helped to unify and give voice to a small minority group. The role of the media in the social identity of African Americans According to the United States Census Bureau (2001), 12.3% of all people reporting as one race reported they were “Black or African American”. This ethnic identity is now the second biggest minority in the United States. It also refers to a group of people who have been in this country for as long as it has existed. However, through the persecution of slavery, the rigors of segregation, and the continuing latent prejudice; African Americans are still searching for their true identity. African American Identity Just as children that were adopted tend to long for a true identity most of their lives, so is the plight of the African American. Stolen from their homeland and forced into enslavement in a new country, African Americans were basically victims of identity theft. Although much progress has been made in the way of an American identity for African Americans, a true identity has not yet been found. According to W.E.B DuBois (1903) “The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self”. (p. 68) Many African Americans feel the same as Kali Tal (1996) when she says, “After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world – a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.” She also states, “One ever feels his twoness – an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled arrives; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” A quick look at American histor... ... middle of paper ... ...ly 25, 2004 from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/timeline/early_01.html Tal, K. (1996) The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: African American Critical Theory and Cyberculture The Kali Tal Homepage Retrieved July 25 fromhttp://www.freshmonsters.com/kalital/Text/Articles/whiteness.html U.S. Census Bureau (2001) Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin. Census 2000 Website Retrieved July 25, 2004 from http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2001/cb01cn61.html Woods, K. M. (1995) An Essay on a Wickedly Powerful Word Poynter Online Retrieved July 25, 2004 from http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=5603 Afro-phobic or Afro-publicist 15 Worthy, D. (2004) Cosby’s Rant Reverberates Through the Black Press NCM Retrieved July 25, 2004 from http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id= c3a1cf5b268909dfee0db53722131aee Young African-Americans Against Media Stereotypes (2004) Black Athletes and the Media. YAAMS WEBSITE Retrieved July 25, 2004 from http://www.yaaams.org/blackathletes.shtml Young African-Americans Against Media Stereotypes (2004) The NBA and White Wives. YAAAMS Website Retrieved July 25, 2004 from http://www.yaaams.org/whitewives.shtml

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