The Portrayal Of African Americans

1814 Words Oct 15th, 2014 8 Pages
Throughout the last century, the role that African Americans have played in films has changed drastically, and for the better. When black people first started acting in movies they were strictly relegated to playing the roles of pre-determined stereotypes of the black man. Not only were they forced to play the roles of insulting stereotypes, but also the only aspect that determined what role they would play was essentially their skin color. In a world today where we are taught that we are all equal and that color of skin is simply the product of where your people came from, your culture, and who your parents are. Throughout this research paper I will put forward the numerous stereotypes that are shown in the films that first used black actors, while also documenting the changes that came as a result of the industry as well as people coming forward as a society and resisting systematic or institutional racism. One of the most influential filmmakers of the silent film era was director D.W. Griffith. His masterpiece at the time was twelve reel American Civil War film, The Birth of a Nation (1915). The film took white audiences by storm, but minorities complained that the film contains negative stereotypes of African Americans as well as glorifying the Ku Klux Klan. This film is a perfect example of how using stereotypes regarding race and ethnicity were not even considered questionable practices at the time in the film industry. Although putting radical notions like…
Open Document