Racial Stereotypes

3031 Words Feb 2nd, 2011 13 Pages
Cierra Washington
LAN 1080-83733
Racial Stereotypes in American Popular Culture and Media
A "stereotype" can be defined simply as; a process for making metal printing plates, or a plate made by this process (the process of a stereotype). Another definition for the word, more commonly used, means a simplified or standardized conception and/or image of a particular group.
The old definition of "stereotype" relates to the sociological definition of the word, in that it is a taking from a “mold cast in type metal“(symbolically). I would compare this mold to the way that some people think, i.e. stereotypically. Many people have ideas “molded” into their minds about certain groups of people, and this is a "mold" of sorts that is ingrained
…show more content…
The “black-face” character was depicted as a “coon”, which was a derogatory term for African-Americans. The “coon” character was simpleminded, and unintelligent. The prototypical movie coon was a slow-talking, slow-walking, self-demeaning nitwit. Such movies that portrayed the “coon” character in blackface included “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, and “The Birth of a Nation”.
The “blackface” and “sambo” characters are brought to life even in the 21st century as many black males are still portrayed in movies and television shows as the “shuck n’ jive” giddy character who is simpleminded and/or stupid, always has to tell a joke, or dresses in drag (Martin Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy, etc).

Picaninny
The “picanniny” caricature was the dominant racial caricature of black children for most of United States history. They were referred to as “child coons”. The first famous pica ninny was “Topsy”, a poorly dressed, neglected, slave girl. She appeared in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel entitled, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. This “pica ninny” character was created to show the evils of slavery.
The picaninny caricature always showed black children as poorly dressed; with ragged, torn, and/or oversized clothes, or even near nude. They were shown with unruly hair, and one popular image of the pica ninny caricature displays a black child with a very wide mouth eating a watermelon. This perpetuated the stereotype
Open Document