Black Liberation Essay, Research Paper
The African American Representation in the Media and the Impression it leaves on Black Children
Young children are highly impressionable. Children look at their role models such as their parents/guardians to guide them into being responsible, hard working, law-abiding citizens. Children usually view their parents/guardians as their primary representation of their culture. Little boys admire their fathers as a strong and influential presence, which they want, emulates. According to Sigmund Freud?s Oedipal conflict, boys desire their mother and despise their father. ?The boy views the father as a rivals and hold a secret wish to kill him. However they view their father as all-powerful, this takes the form of castration anxiety. In order to overcome this they begin to identify with their father, attempting to be as similar to their father as possible (Feldman, Robert S., 1998, p.228). Little girls emulate their mothers who they (little girls) believe are hard working, organized, and fashionable. ?Girls, according to Freud go through a similar process. They begin to feel sexual attraction toward their fathers and experience penis envy, which is the same as the Oedipal conflict (only with girls) (Feldman, 1998, p.288). In today?s society this has changed children rarely look to their parents/guardians as their primary example of what they would like to be when they reach their age. ?Piaget suggests that the growth in children?s understanding of their world can be explained by two basic principals, assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the process in terms of their understanding in terms of their cognitive development and way of thinking. In contrast accommodation refers to their current stage of cognitive development and way of thinking (Feldman, 1998, p. 24). Therefore instead of children viewing their parents as their primary representation towards the media. The media becomes their teacher and guides of who they want to be in life. Unfortunately, children are led astray by these images in which they view and hold as a prime example. One such group, which is lead astray by the representation of their group, is African Americans. The African American group is represented in a negative manner and this representation has a negative to even a detrimental influence on children who view constant images of their group being associated with violent behaviors, images/ideas of being inferior to Caucasians, and being predestined to a life of poverty. These extremely negative images are everywhere from television to printed media. This reporter will discuss The Radical School of Black Psychology and its theory being a good solution to the African American representation in the media. The reporter will also discuss the constant images presented to African American children and the theoretical relief found in the radical school. ?Every four hours a black child is murdered in the United States, says Glenda Hatchett, chief presiding judge of the Fulton Country Juvenile Court in Atlanta ? (Kinnon, 1999, p.126). Also, ?forty-six percent of juveniles in correctional facilities are black, according to a study by the United States Justice Departments office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention? (Kinnon). The research shows this percentage of children is outrageously high since Kinnon states Black children make up only fifteen percent of Americans? youth population. These statistics suggest some force affects African American children. The force is idealized and held as a primary source in the cognitive thinking of black children. The Rev. Jessie L. Jackson says, ?violent movies, violent video games, and violent music which say it is imitating reality when in fact it is creating reality (Kinnon). Black Children are listening to violent music from artists such as ?Notorious B.I.G.? ?TUPAC?, and ?ONYX?. African American children believe they can identify with the lyrics (lyrics of sex, drugs, and violence) these artists provide because they are Black. African American children believe since these artists are black they know exactly what black children are experiencing in their lives. However, this is sadly not the case because not all Black children experience sex, drugs, and violence in their environment. Also these images should not be glorified for those Black children who experience them (sex, drugs and violence). These images depicted on television, heard in music, viewed in magazines, newspapers, and movies all have negative lasting impressions on African American children. A 12-year-old child in Michigan was charged for murder and a 9-year-old Child in California was charged for second-degree murder. Both children are being charged as adults for these crimes. The sad fact of these stories are young Black children are killing other children. These children who are committing these crimes do not realize the severity of their action. For a child to muster enough courage in pulling a trigger of a gun and severely harming another child is proof that Black children are being desensitized to the violence around them by culture they view in the media. ?Young people don?t fully understand what it is they are doing,? says, Dr. Robert Newly, professor and chair of Central Michigan University? sociology anthropology and social work department. ?It seems to be a Hollywood script as opposed to real life? (Kinnon). Children feel that harming another child is not serious. They think life is one big fantasy as seen in the media. Through violence, children are immensely affected in a negative manner. Violence is showed as an everyday affair in the life of the African American child. The media pours constant images of violence, violence that is seen by Black children as ?cool fantasy?. Black children are then desensitized to the violence, which makes it easier for them to perceive, hence committing violent crimes. This shows that the media representation of Blacks have a negative and detrimental impression on children. Secondly, African American children are underrepresented in the media. These children have no self-images to relate to at a time when images are imperative. Also since they hold the media as their primary representation of their culture. When African American children are forming positive or negative self-images, They are often left out of the picture altogether. When they are included, they may be portrayed as nonessential or stereotypical. White children nearly always see themselves, and black children increasingly see people who look like them, though often in unflattering portrayals (Los Angeles times, p.4). African American children don?t have any images to look to in the media that can lift them up and empower them as a group. Positive images that can empower Black children are very important because children are extremely sensitive. According to the Los Angeles Times, All children are sensitive to what they watch on television, whether the programming is news or entertainment. They draw conclusion. They believe, said the study, that white characters are more likely to be rich, smart, and successful. They are leaders, doctors, and police officers?never maids or janitors. Minority characters are more likely to be poor, lazy, criminal or goofy. These early impressions matter, children quickly pick up stereotypes and inequities; they all recognize the read role models (Los Angeles Times) This is extremely tragic for Black children, to constantly see the group they identify with as lazy, poor, and criminal. The previous quote would be an example of ?intellectual oppression?; Na?im Akbar asserts this involves the abusive use of ideas, labels and concepts geared toward the mental degradation of a people (Karenga, 1993,p.450). These images do nothing but damage the Black child?s self-esteem and ambition to do anything productive. The same Black child who is highly impressionable and vulnerable to what they view. How can the Black child view him/herself in a positive manner when all he/she views is negativity. Therefore, Black children desire to be as close to who is depicted as strong, positive, and rich. In the media, this group is Caucasians. The experiment done by Kenneth Clarke (Black Psychologist from the Traditional School) in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education supports this theory, since two-third of the children preferred white dolls. Therefore Black children are truly affected by the dominant images they see in the media. Black children are at a point of almost devaluing their color and culture. This is sad because Black children have such a rich heritage, however, it is almost never showed to them in the media. This becomes detrimental because Black children hold the media as a primary source of information. This once again proves media representation of Blacks has a negative impression on Black children. The third impression, which African American children perceive from the media, is African Americans are predestined to a life of poverty. The news constantly disperses images of working aged Blacks depending on welfare or Blacks being the primary users of welfare. This researcher argues this is impossible since Blacks only comprise of 12% of the population. The news never fails with a story about a black individual living in poverty. ?Newsweek publisher 82 stories on poverty and related topics, an average of about one story every 3 weeks. African Americans made up 62 percent of the poor people pictures in the stories? (Gilens, 1996, v60: 515-541). Readers who view these articles don?t have another impression other than the nation?s poverty problems are caused by African Americans. They believe Blacks are the cause of the problem. Readers also view Blacks as lazy, inefficient individuals so they think why should they try to assist in the resolution of the nation?s poverty problem. Children also view these images, they see and hear comments, referring to their group as poor, underclass, and doomed to a life of poverty. Hence, making them dependents on the government. Weeknight news shows on ABC, NBC, and CBS broadcast 534 stories on poverty And related topics, of which 50 stories were randomly selected for analysis. Of 1,100 Race-codable poor people in these stories, 65.2 percent were black. (Gilens) There is an overrepresentation of Blacks in the media as poverty stricken people. These images have a lasting negative effect on Black children. Where can these children find some encouraging network that builds their self-esteem and pride in their culture as well as their heritage? In this researchers opinion the answer can be found in the Radical School of Black Psychology. African American children must turn to their parents/guardians for the support they need. Parents/guardians should allow time for lessons concerning their heritage, culture, and self worth. African American children should no longer look to the media, weather it may be newspapers, radio, television, and movies to teach or depict any image of their culture. The Radical School of Black Psychology agrees with the above statement. The Radical School of Black Psychology believes ?no appeals should be made to whites, this school directs their attention instead to Black people in terms of analysis treatment and transformation? (Karenga, Malilana, 1993, p.442). Therefore the only individuals capable of teaching African American children about their culture originating from a line of Kings and Queens are individuals who concern themselves with the educational and social upliftment of the African American child. Only individual?s who believe in the African proverb ?it takes a village to raise a child? can truly teach African American children about a culture of collectivism instead of individualism. Collectivism is defined as putting the group?s interest above oneself and individualism is defined, as holding the individuals needs primary. This researcher believes Europeans are an individualist culture and have shown through the media their lack of concern of the Black Child. This is another area where the Radical School of Black Psychology gives a solution. According to Bobby Wright, a Black Psychologist, whites are psychopaths who lack concern or commitment except to their own interest. Wright also believe whites are ?constantly in conflict with others, unable to experience guilt, completely selfish and callous and has total disregard for the rights of others? (Karenga, 1993, 464). Since the Radical School of Black Psychologist is concerned with the educational and social upliftment of African American this researcher can boldly say the solution to the negative impressions the media leave on Black children is with in this school as the theories it process. This school believes part of the solution is providing safe havens/shelters where Black children can exercise their reasoning skills. The Radical School of Psychology demonstrates its belief in ?it takes a village to raise a child?. The Radical School demonstrates this by their belief in no appeals being made to whites and strictly treatment and transformation of Black people. Hence, the ways in which African Americans are represented in the media have a negative impression on African American children. African American children are bombarded by millions of acts of violence, which desensitizes them to violence. This desensitization therefore makes it easier for African American children to commit random acts of violence. African American children are also faced with images of having less value than Caucasian children. African American children almost never see themselves in a positive manner or never at all. Thirdly Black children constantly view and hear the cause of poverty is Blacks, who are lazy and worthless individuals. Therefore, this researcher believes the village that will assist to raise our Black children can be found in the Radical School of Black Psychology. Their objective clearly demonstrates a burning desire to assist Black people. Hence, turning to their theories will assist in making the Black community a driving force in the upliftment of their children.
References ? ?Black Love/Black History Issues? (1997, June) Ebony Section: Letter to the Editor; p. 18b ? Feldman, Robert S. (1998). Child Development Prentice Hall ? Gieln, Martin (1996). ?Pace and Poverty in America: Public Misperceptions and the American News Media? Public Opinion Quarterly Volume 60: 515-541 ? Karenga, Maulana (1993) Introduction to Black Studies The University of Sankore Press Los Angeles, California ? Kinnon, Joy, B. (1999, January) ?Why Children are Killing? Ebony Section; Violence; p. 126 ? ?The Power of TV Images? (1998, May) Los Angles Times Section; metro; part B; p 4; Editorial Writers Desk