Race is a large part of American Society today, and the United States media plays a large factor in how people perceive African-American males and females both. There have been many surveys taken to see how people perceive the portrayals of African-Americans in the media, and these surveys do not always match up with the true statistics. These portrayals in media can directly affect the stereotypes people have on African-Americans, and these stereotypes can create racial differences that results in violence. African Americans are portrayed poorly in the mass media, and with early education on race and better representation in the media, these portrayals will no longer affect the stereotypes people have on African-Americans. There are many different reasons why the mass media representation of African Americans is poor in the United States. The mass media has separated the working class, and young African-American males are being stereotyped as drug dealers or gangsters. Mostly the media centers on the negative characteristics and actions of the African-American community. Characteristics and actions such as engaging in drug use, criminal activity, and welfare abuse (Sanders 20).
This representation has affected African-American male’s ability to find future employment or promotions, and this can affect them for the rest of their lives. In Sander’s online survey, 466 respondents were asked how African American males are generally portrayed in the media overall. Ninety-nine percent of the respondents stated they believe coverage in the media focused more heavily on topics that involve crime (Sanders 28). In addition, ninety-six percent of the respondents believe that the media coverage is negative (Sanders 28). In a study done by Thomas Stevenson, media coverage was broken down into eight categories, and crime was the leading topic. Of the articles that included African-Americans, thirty-six percent of the articles center point was on crime (Stevenson 7). However, for television broadcast, sixty-four out of seventy-four stories that African American males were involved in focused on crime (Stevenson 7). These results go to show how much one’s stereotype of another can be affected by the media. In reality, statistics shows that there are more whites than African-Americans in prison, sixty percent to forty percent (Stevenson 12). This shows that the media portrayals are wrong and are affecting the stereotypes of African-American males strongly. African-American females are portrayed quite differently in mass media than males.
They are portrayed as “gold diggers,” “jezebels,” and “baby mamas” according to a survey with more than twelve hundred respondents done by Richard Prince. According to this survey, these were three different types of African-American females that are most portrayed in the media. On the other side, there were six different descriptions of African-American females that there isn’t enough portrayal of in the media. These being young phenoms, real beauties, individualists, community heroines, girls next door and modern matriarchs (Fujioka 58). Eighty-Five percent of respondents stated the media portrays African-American females as baby mamas. A baby mama is a term used to define an unmarried young woman who has had a child. In addition, only forty-one percent of the respondents stated that the media portrays African-Americans as real beauties (Fujioka 58). Again, eighty-five percent of respondents stated they feel the six descriptions above fit African-American females more than the baby mama, gold digger, or jezebel descriptions. Most African-American women want to be looked at positively in the media, and want their children to grow up with positive images and role models. They should be able to turn on the television without worrying about the negativity that could possibly be said about their culture.
These issues with mass media representation of African-Americans needs fixed, and it will not be easy. These issues with the portrayals of African-Americans in the media, and how it affects the stereotypes of African-Americans can be fixed. However, the fix can take a long time to take place. The first action that can be taken to help the problem is teaching equality among races, in this case African-Americans, early in childhood. If this is taught at a young age, then there would be less hate among races. With this less hate, there would be much less negative stereotypes in the media. In addition, with less negative stereotypes in the media, there would be less violence as well. This less violence would also decrease negative stereotypes in the media. The second action that needs to take place is the media needs to do better at representing African-Americans.
The media needs to present them for who they really are, instead of presenting only the negative aspects. This will all take time and effort, however if done, it will have a positive influence on American Society. Again, African-Americans are portrayed in mass media very negatively in the United States, and this directly influences the stereotypes on African-Americans. Not only do other races see this negativity towards African-Americans in the media, but African-Americans see this portrayal as well. This portrayal has a negative effect on society by causing more violence in the streets, and the media giving the wrong interpretation of African-Americans. However, with much effort and time, these stereotypes can become more positive and the media can portray African-Americans for who they really are.