Racism is over now that America elected a Black president. Right? Mark Sullivan discusses the effects of Obama’s election.

This is the third part of a five-part series. Dr. Mark Sullivan, an adjunct professor at Towson University who teaches a class called Mass Media and Society, delves into the issue of the negative black stereotypes that are reinforced, and the impact of their media portrayals.

This segment comments on whether President Obama’s election has allowed more racism in America, how much “Black blood” a person has to have to be “Black enough,” how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go in the fight against racism, and that the current depictions of Black people in media are reinforced by their success.


The following are highlights from the third segment of this discussion on depictions of Black people in the media:

“We have a very positive role model who–first of all–is only half Black and everbody seems to forget that which goes back to very old ideas of what one drop, and if there is one drop of Black blood, you are defined as Black in many southern municipalities up to far more recently than we’d like to think.”

“They used to test people by holding a paper bag next to their face to see if they were darker or lighter than a paper bag to determine how Black they were. And in that case it was to determine what privileges they did not get.”

“The interesting thing about Obama–besides the debates within Black culture–is the assumption especially on the part of the maintstream that the day Obama was elected racism ended. That to any claim of racism in America somebody can say ‘but we have a Black president. How can we be racist if we have a Black president?'”

“There was a study done a few years ago where they asked people nationwide how far we had come in terms of racism and how far we had yet to go. And the interesting thing about this study was that African Americans and Whites almost entirely agree about how far we had come and how far we had left to go. The difference came in that African Americans tended to focus primarily on what had yet to be done, how far yet to go. Whereas Whites primarily focused on how far we had come.”

“So many of the media depictions of African Americans are so taken for granted. And in successful shows that the producers, the networks, so far and so forth are never going to change them as long as they remain successful. And they’re going to continue to be perpetuated.”



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