African-American Stereotypes in Ethnic Notions





African-American Stereotypes in Ethnic Notions

The stereotype has been defined by various scholars with a common idea being that it is a generalized belief about a group of people; every member of a particular group is expected to conform to the belief. While this term has been used in almost many cases example, that most African-Americans are democrats there are other stereotypes that have been held of African-Americans from way before the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, stereotypes are rampant across all the females regardless of their origin which explains why in our society men wages are slightly higher than that of women regardless of the education or experience level; it is very common for African-American women. The discussion below will shed light on two African-Americans stereotypes that have been depicted in the ethnic notions documentary and their role in the social-historic context.

According to California Newsreel, the ethnic notions documentary was a 1987 Marlon Riggs Emmy winning documentary that talks about the American history with a specific emphasis on the stereotypes held against the African-Americans that have spiraled to the prejudice they receive in today’s society. The narrations in the film explain not only the origin but the consequences of these stereotypes based on the influence of the whites, unfortunately, the depictions in the movie have led to some of those notions believed to be true and associated with the Africa-Americans today. The first stereotype in the documentary is the mammy, she is characterized as family-oriented, maternal, nurturing and a churchgoer who keeps the needs of the family before her own. This stereotypic belief about the women was created back in the slavery days as the women who were seen to be the loyal worked for the white people regardless of their position in the society and how they took care of the white’s family needs over those of their own families. The character in the film is portrayed as pitch-black, loyal, docile and fat. The second stereotype is the sambo, he is depicted as someone who was carefree, simple, irresponsible, laughing and docile and who in all ways tried to avoid work so he can enjoy dancing or eating(Crawley).

The portray of the African-Americans as shown in the film not only had consequences but also had various functions in the social-historical context. The display of the people that they were happy to serve the masters can be used to explain why the pursuit of freedom was very hard for the African-Americans even after the wars over. The African-Americans went through so much segregation because of these depictions across the media, they were treated differently from the places they sat at the bus to where the students went to school. The unfair treatment can be explained why even in today’s society they are still treated differently; it can be explained by how they are regarded as dangerous while compared to the whites which explain the high shooting rates of African-Americans who have been perceived as threats. Moreover, the depiction of the African-Americans looks where they were not only referred to as pitch black but also with big lips and big heads was used by the media in advertising avenues to promote various products such as tobacco, household items and alcohol (Rolle). This was not an advertising strategy but it was used to manipulate the feelings of the intended buyers, the depiction of them can be used to explain why since then they have struggled with their image and even tried to change it as the whites. The result can be reflected on the various hair products meant to change their hair to look for the whites and the various makeup products with an essence to make them look like the whites.

Additionally, the function of these stereotypes can be explained to the main reasons the Black live matter movement in today’s society was established. The racism that stemmed from the stereotypes resulted in the racism menace where the African-Americans have been treated not only different but also unequal to the whites from their place in all spheres of life. To ensure that the African-Americans achieve the same state of the society the whites have inhabited since the end of slavery they have had to sacrifice so much regardless of how good they have proved to be.

Frankly, while today’s society can be termed as enlightened and advanced that the 19th century one, it unfortunate that there is still the unequal treatment of the African-Americans still persisting today. The media which is meant to be the first channel to enlighten the people have come along way and today the depiction of the African American at the inferior is ceasing to exist. Unfortunately, the damage that was created when the documentary was being created has spiraled even today and while the expression of the unequal treatment is highlighted and championed against through the channels as a country we are not yet at a place where we can term the menace as a story of the past. Lastly, all we can do is to ensure that the notion of the future generation is that everyone regardless of their skin color is equal in all manner.Works Cited

California Newsreel. Ethnic Notions. 2009, Accessed 22 Mar 2020.

Crawley, Azana-Tatjana. “My Reaction To The Ethnic Notions Documentary”. The Odyssey Online, 2017, Accessed 21 Mar 2020.

Rolle, Ester. “The Birth Of Black American Stereotypes In Media — 4MP”. 4MP, 2019,