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Positive Portrayls

“…Media outlets were a contributing factor for some of the frustration in African American community during the politically charged time of the mid-1960s because blacks were represented in the mass media only as “train porters, sports heroes, entertainers, or criminals (1994, p. 380).”

Celebrities, athletes, models and entertainers grace the covers of magazines in an effort to intrigue enough reader curiosity to peel back the layers of content in monthly publications. While surveying the sea of glossies on a recent trip to the grocery store, I recalled the class reading regarding Smith & Price’s observation of the portrayal of African Americans in nondaily news publications. The reading noted that the way African Americans are portrayed in the media gives society a stereotypical representation of the whole race. As unfortunate as it may be, this statement sheds light on a subject that is familiar in the African American community. Although it is unfortunate that athletes and entertainers are only featured for their heightened popularity, it was truly rewarding to see the Presidential couple, President Obama and Michelle, featured on the front cover of one of the magazines. The copy reinforced a positive image of African Americans in a non-stereotypical depiction that is contrary to past images of arrested, battling addictions or any references illustrating lower socio-economic status. When society is confronted with the images of different races and ethnicities on television in a negative light, it obstructs the acceptance of other cultures that are unfamiliar to the general population. Consequently, the barrage of misrepresented photos has the potential to portray cultures in an unfavorable light.




Lisa, thanks for posting this and I was intrigued by your perspective. As I read this, I also thought that this perusal of glossies does not show Asians (or not that I could see) who represent a significant portion population. Are media obligated to make sure they’re representing everyone? Or they obligated to make sure that they don’t represent a population in a certain light? I’m not here with answers, just questions and your post made me think of them.


Interesting post. I love the display of magazines- I can really see what the media is choosing to portray from different areas. There are a lot of blacks, it appears, on the front covers but in my eyes, they still seem to be in the same stereotypical roles. The bottom photo shows blacks only in sports, while the above half indeed does show the president and his wife… but they’re on the cover of Ebony magazine (for blacks!). I don’t know the content of Essence magazine, but Tyler Perry is a comedian/entertainer and this would still apply as a stereotypical black role in the media. Interesting to see that this still occurs today right in front of our very own eyes in this generation.

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