Mass media is a powerful force in American pop culture. Images seen on billboards, television, magazines, and the big screen create lasting impressions. Sometimes these impressions have a negative impact. Mass media can be very detrimental to society if it is not criticized. Many groups of Americans are negatively affected by the images and content of mass media. African Americans are at the top of this list. Images of African Americans in television, music, and film are often less than stellar.
Black men are often portrayed as drug pushers, pimps, thugs, and dead beat dads, while black women are portrayed as poor, lazy, and promiscuous. This needs to stop! That is a given! Question is, how are these negative images going to be stopped? Several steps should be taken in order to prevent these negative images in the media. The origins of these images need to be examined, and modern racism and prejudice need to be exposed. There may be some accuracy to the negative images of African Americans in the media, but that is no excuse.
The media should focus more on uplifting people. African Americans have historically had a disadvantage when compared to their white counterparts. This should not be exploited for entertainment purposes. African Americans are often placed in roles that portray them as poorly educated. This dates all the way to minstrel shows! This is still a problem today! Americans are more comfortable laughing at blacks as appose to understanding blacks. The main problem with images of African Americans is that they are one dimensional.
African Americans are diverse and come from a variety of backgrounds. If an African American is portrayed as a druggie or a convict, then there should be some reasoning behind this. People don’t become drug addicts for the fun of it; they become drug addicts because they want to numb themselves from the pain and suffering of their everyday lives. Black men and women don’t become criminals because they are horrible people. They become criminals because they are taught that they have no other option!
African Americans have to stand up for themselves and fight against the media. That is the only way things will change. While doing this, they may have to criticize other African Americans. This should be done with love. Black rappers, singers, and actors should be held with some responsibility. Black leaders like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby have spoken out about this. Rappers, including Ludacris and 50 Cent have been criticized for their lyrics.
It is unclear if they are rapping about their experiences in order to expose their struggles, or if they are exploiting the black struggle with their lyrics. Violence, sexuality, and the lack of education are unfortunately a part of African American society. The media should show this. Rappers and singers should perform songs about this. Black actors should play roles that depict this. Black actors, singers, and rappers should not exploit these disadvantages. Instead they should use their craft to create solutions to these problems. Drugs and violence should not be glamorized!
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