I sat down with Dr. Mark Sullivan, an adjunct professor at Towson University who teaches a class called Mass Media and Society, and he gave a very in depth analysis of negative portrayal of African Americans in the media, the stereotypes that are reinforced, and the impact of these portrayals.
I first asked him to simply discuss racism issues and the stereotypes of black people in the media. This led to a talk about Tyler Perry’s opposing depictions of black characters in his movies and shows.
This is only the first part of a rather long interview, but the highlight of this piece can be summed up right here:
“There are a lot of stereotypes out there. And we seem to be… drawn to the most stereotypical depictions: in gangster rap, in movies, in TV shows. We again and again see the pimps, the drug dealers …all of the stereotypical African American depictions.
And we tend to lose the other side. Even though there are tons of professional African Americans on tv, we see tons of cops, doctors, and lawyers, [but] somehow we don’t think of them as ‘black.’ They are also black. And so they don’t really override or outweigh the stereotypes that we see…
We still see the criminal and say ‘yes, that’s the normal depiction’ and we ignore the professional one and say ‘they are individuals.’ Somehow it never undercuts the stereotypical depictions we see.”