Friday, October 14, 2005

The Same Ol' Same Ol'

The Saem Ol' Same Ol'

Whereas blacks used to be portrayed as exotic, foolish and childlike, today they are portrayed as menacing, gun-toting drug addicts or as hypersexual pimps and whores. Examples include the following:
Ghettopoly is a board game modeled after Monopoly, except that it belittles racial minorities. Ghettopoly has seven game pieces: Pimp, Hoe, 40 oz, Machine Gun, Marijuana Leaf, Basketball, and Crack. One of the game's cards reads, You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each playa. Whereas Monopoly has houses and hotels, Ghettopoly has crack houses and projects.
Trash Talker Dolls, distributed by, sells dolls that stereotype various ethnic groups. Their best seller is Pimp Daddy, a chain-wearing black man who says, among other things, You better make some money, bitch.
The minstrel show is back too, in the person of Charles Knipp, a white man who gives performances—popular in the deep South—in which he dresses up in ragged women's clothes and blackface makeup and portrays Shirley Q. Liquor, a trash-talking black woman with 19 children.
More recently, of course, other images have been coming out of New Orleans, also imbued with racial meanings. Controversy has arisen, for example, about the contrast between news photographs of Hurricane Katrina—one with a caption that described white people finding bread and soda from a local grocery store, ‘while the caption to a photo of a black man carrying similar supplies stated that he had been ‘looting a grocery store.’ Other controversy followed the remarks of rapper Kanye West, when he departed from scripted comments during a Katrina fund raiser and complained that ‘America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. ... George Bush doesn't care about black people.’”-Jim Crow Propaganda Sheldon Rampton

During the pre Civil War era AmeriKKKa indulged in mocking, belittling and humiliating Africans in popular white culture. This pattern continues to this very day, only we have become so used to it it doesn’t even bother us any more. Whites used various media and social institutions such as theater, advertising, films, religion and education to defame, debase, stereotype and to treat with utter contempt images of African people our history and our culture. This pattern in some ways is less blatant today but nevertheless it still exists. If you look at BET or MTV’s music videos featuring blacks you see a modern version of the minstrel show, the hyper sexed black female and the sociopathic criminal. The legacy of D.W. Griffith' Birth of A Nation lives on. The saddest part of all of this is, Negroes (unconscious Africans) are now playing a major role in producing this garbage. The reason I’m wriing about this topic is I saw a piece on Jim Crow propaganda on the Center for Media and Democracy’s Website entitled Jim Crow Propaganda. The article was about an exhibit at Ferris State University in Michigan called the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia that was established by one of the university’s Sociology professors David Pligrim. Pilgrim had this to say about racist iconography and images, “All racial groups have been caricatured in this country, but none have been caricatured as often or in as many ways as have black Americans, Blacks have been portrayed in popular culture as pitiable exotics, cannibalistic savages, hypersexual deviants, childlike buffoons, obedient servants, self-loathing victims, and menaces to society. These anti-black depictions were routinely manifested in or on material objects: ashtrays, drinking glasses, banks, games, fishing lures, detergent boxes, and other everyday items. These objects, with racist representations, both reflected and shaped attitudes towards African Americans. Robbin Henderson, director of the Berkeley Art Center, said, 'derogatory imagery enables people to absorb stereotypes; which in turn allows them to ignore and condone injustice, discrimination, segregation, and racism.' She was right. Racist imagery is propaganda and that propaganda was used to support Jim Crow laws and customs.”. Racist imagery is propaganda, as African people we must constantly remind ourselves the images we see in the mass media are deliberate and intentional and they have both psychological and political purposes.
This is just as true today as it was during the antebellum slavery days. A classic example is the images we recently saw of desperate black folks stranded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina amidst bogus reports of rape, looting and murder that have since been repudiated by most official sources. Nevertheless, the damage has been done. People formed opinions about the black folks trapped in New Orleans based upon those images and stories and those opinions were not sympathetic, Those images and news stories reenforced existing racist stereotypes and transmitted them all over the world. They sent the very real message the US government doesn’t care about black folks. We must always be aware the producers and exhibitors of these racist images have an agenda; whether they mean ill or not, their agenda is detrimental to our psychic well-being, our individual self-image and our collective self-esteem. It is all part and parcel to their ongoing program of menticide, the destruction of our minds It is safe to say that if these racist images don’t bother you or you think there is nothing wrong with them, our enemies have succeeded. If they bother you, do something about it. Turn off the television, boycott the sponsors and advertisers and seek out self-affirming pro black forms of information and entertainment. Just like boxing referees tell the fighters “protect yourself at all times” , we must protect our minds and our environments from racist propaganda at all times.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home