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The Portrayal of Black People in the Media

by Yolenskie Jules

The opinion pieces expressed in this publication, The Montclarion, are those of the author(s). They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of The Montclarion, other than Editorials written by The Montclarion Editorial Board staff.

For centuries there has been a disconnect between Black people and media due to the negative stereotypes being pushed by society.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 63% of Black adults say they often see more negative news about Black people than other groups of people.

Black stereotypes in media have been around since the mid-19th Century as screenwriters implemented blackface to dramatize and mock Black people’s features and even as of today, the trust has never been restored.

We see in the entertainment industry that there has been a certain policing of Black entertainers. Although executives know that the needle does not move without Black people, there is a certain reminder to make an example out of them whenever they attempt to use their platform to speak up for the better of the community.

Unfortunately, the way Black people are perceived in the media has withheld the progress of the Black community.

Statista published a recent poll stating that about 87% of screenwriters in Hollywood are white, meaning you have white people telling Black stories in an attempt to control the narrative.

In some of the most iconic Black films that are staples for the Black community, we see a consistent trend of anything struggle-related. Most of these movies consist of a deadbeat father who left the mother of his kids to raise the kids alone, or a drug-dealing son who is affiliated with gang life and eventually gets shot or murdered.

Even our supposed ‘’rom-coms’’ consist of struggling with the girl having to be the “strong Black woman’’ and be masculine because she is taking care of a man with no job, fighting with his baby mamas and dealing with constant lying and cheating.

These negative stereotypes have made it normal for the Black community to believe that this is how life should be when it is nothing but struggle. Actress and producer Marsai Martin, who is the youngest producer in Hollywood, has declined to make Black pain projects as she wants to create a sense of joy for Black people. We need more Black producers and screenwriters to get away from the struggle narrative that is pushed on our community.

In the music industry, many executives were initially against rap going mainstream as many deemed it to be too violent. But now, there is a trend where many executives are putting a lot of money behind rap artists, to continue to push the negative stereotypes in the Black community.

Rap has been mainstream and one of the most popular forms of music but we cannot deny the shift we see in music and how that affects the Black community’s youth. In the 90’s, we saw mainstream artists like Tupac and Queen Latifah, but their raps were written as art that told us a story.

Now, too many of our mainstream rappers are pushing drugs and gang-affiliated culture, having their audience think that that is what it means to be cool and be down.

Among many Black men, there’s a common thinking that the only way to get money is to be an athlete and only one percent of people make it to the professional level.

When many young men realize that their dreams of being a professional athlete are non-existent they then turn to being a rapper, scammer or gang-related activity to make quick money and eventually end up either in jail or dead.

In the Black community for many people, it is “corny’’ to go to college and get a degree and we can not help but trace all these negative stereotypes back to the media and how positive things that would help the Black community are frowned upon.

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