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JlMC 477 African American

Intersectionality Theory and a look at African American Images in the Media.

Joel Geske

on 29 May 2012

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Transcript of JlMC 477 African American

Intersectionality Theory
Intersectionality is a feminist sociological theory first highlighted by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989). Intersectionality is a methodology of studying "the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations" (McCall 2005). The theory suggests various socially and culturally constructed categories such as gender, race, class, disability and other axes of identity interact, contributing to systematic social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia and religion-based bigotry, do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination.
On the "down low"
Down low is a slang term that refers to a subculture of African American men who usually claim to be heterosexual, but who have sex with men. Some avoid sharing this information even if they have female sexual partner(s). By most standards they would be considered bisexual or gay.
American culture historically emasculated the black man by
taking away rights, limiting jobs, and generally taking away power
and masculine roles. As rights were restored through civil rights law,
a hypermasculine image emerged in the media -- especially in inner city
or urban neighborhoods and an image popularized by
rap and hip hop music.
Hip Hop in Review: Part I Hyper-masculinity and Homophobia
Hip Hop : Beyonds the Beats and Rhymes Part 2
According to a study published in the Journal of Bisexuality: "The Down Low is a lifestyle predominately practiced by young, urban African American men who have sex with other men and women, yet do not identify as gay or bisexual."

In this context, "being on the Down Low" is more than just men having sex with men in secret, or a variant of closeted homosexuality or bisexuality—it is a sexual identity that is, at least partly, defined by its "cult of masculinity" and its rejection of white culture (including white LGBT culture) and terms.
This is a good example of the intersections
of being black, what it means to be masculine
and being homosexual in a predominantly white,
heterosexual society.

In "Power Plays, Power Works," John Fiske suggests that closeted homosexuality may be more common in American communities suffering from widespread poverty, in which members reportedly depend heavily on traditional family networks (and often religious institutions) for financial and emotional support.
A 2003 New York Times Magazine cover story on the Down Low phenomenon explains that the black community sees "homosexuality as a white man's perversion."[9] It then goes on to describe the Down Low culture as follows:

“Rejecting a gay culture they perceive as white and effeminate, many black men have settled on a new identity, with its own vocabulary and customs and its own name: Down Low. There have always been men—black and white—who have had secret sexual lives with men.

But the creation of an organized, underground subculture largely made up of black men who otherwise live straight lives is a phenomenon of the last decade ... Most date or marry women and engage sexually with men they meet only in anonymous settings like bathhouses and parks or through the internet. Many of these men are young and from the inner city, where they live in a hypermasculine culture.

Other DL men form romantic relationships with men and may even be peripheral participants in mainstream gay culture, all unknown to their colleagues and families. Most DL men identify themselves not as gay or bisexual but first and foremost as black. To them, as to many blacks, that equates to being inherently masculine."
To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/magazine/double-lives-on-the-down-low.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
Good Hair
According to the documentary film Good Hair, black hair care is a $9 billion industry, and black women account for 80 percent of the country's total hair-product sales. (Statistics that could not be confirmed independently but there is general agreement that it is a huge business.)
Good Hair by Chris Rock
Tyra Banks Show 2009
This is hegemony and socialization in action. The white standard of beauty is long, straight (at least not nappy) hair as shown in the media. To look "too black" can mean less acceptance in the predominant culture. Extensive time and money is spent to get straighteners and weaves to get the look...at what cost? We talked about Cultural Imperialism...the woman in the clip said it well. She wanted to look "more white"... the dominant look.
"Nappy headed..."
Words have the power to hurt. National radio host Don Imus made these harsh comments during a women's basketball game...players expressed their outrage over his remarks. Rutgers team captain Essence Carson said Imus' remarks had "stolen a moment of pure grace from us."
Imus was fired from NBC and CBS
for his insensitive, racist comments.
Six Representations of African-Americans from Historian Donald Bogle
TOM—the kind-hearted
and submissive black man. Invokes
the days of slavery or servitude.
From the past
Recent from Intel (pulled)
COON—lazy, ignorant, slovenly, no drive. Cartoon from
1930's, about 70 years after slavery was abolished
combines Uncle Tom and Coon characters.
The internet was quick to point out that the ad featured six black men bowing down to a nerdy white guy. Technically it's just one black sprinter who's been lazily Photoshopped six times, which may be even worse...
Nivea 2011—Modern Day
BAD BUCK—Violent
and full of rage. Dangerous.
Famous "Willie Horton" political ad, 1988.
In a 2005 study by Dixon, news programs systematically misrepresent Black Americans as the perpetrators of crime and whites as the victims. A study in the Los Angles-area showed blacks were over-represented as perpetrators (37%) compared to arrest reports (21%) and under-represented as victims.
Furthermore, whites were over-represented as officers (69%) compared to actual employment records (59%). Many other studies support these findings and indicate blacks are much more often associated with criminality compared to whites.
MAMMY—the loud, usually large, black woman more devoted to her white boss's family than her own.
"Updated Version" 1989
The image still lingers on
in popular media. "The Help:"
Criticized by some in the black
community because while it deals with the topic of rights in the 1960s, at its heart, it is the coming of age story of the white author and doesn't center on the real story of the life of the black women.
TRAGIC MULLATO—mixed race and sexually attractive and exotic to white men. Sample movie from the past:
Controversial ad from 2011 implying blacks should look more "white"
One critic said, "Although the 'before' and 'after' copy is meant to refer to the close-ups of dry/not dry skin, the models are positioned under the words in such as way as to imply that VisibleCare Body Wash will give black women 'visibly more beautiful skin' by turning them first into Latinas and then into thin, blonde, white women.
Final role identified by Bogle is the SIDEKICK or BUDDY—supportive of his white friend and often having to save him in humorous
ways...even in films
that are animated
with Eddie Murphy
voicing the sidekick.
In the 1940s and 1950s, black actors had to "play dumb" for roles as nannies and servants. In the 1960s and 1970s, they were featured mainly as gangsters, pimps and prostitutes in gritty police movies that wanted to establish realism by showing white cops in a Harlem setting.
Even today, casting black characters, even in
a supporting role, can cause controversy. The Council of Conservative Citizens are concerned about Idris Elba being cast as Heimdall in the movie "Thor" and are asking for people to join in a boycott of the film. Apparently, in Norse mythology (emphasis on mythology) Heimdall was "white," so they feel that Marvel Studios are making a tremendous error and are "declaring war on Norse mythology."

Black critics are also critical of role because he serves as the symbolic "doorman" from the heavens...
the end
14th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause)
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Civil Rights and News
In the late 1950s, school segregation was a big issue.
The policy had been "separate but equal" schools but
the schools were anything but equal. In Arkansas, school
desegregation reached a breaking point as state and federal troops were called in to enforce desegregation of Central High.
Put yourself in the shoes of the black students (roughly aged 16-18) in Little Rock.

What are your feelings and emotions?

Note the media frenzy...reporters sticking microphones in your face. Flash bulbs going off...in particular there is one black girl separated from her peers and flanked by a hostile crowd. What is your professional obligation as a reporter? What is your moral obligation?
You are a public relations specialist for the one of the schools ... Little Rock or Ole Miss ... how do you deal with this?

How did the various sides “use” the press to set their agendas (Agenda Setting Theory).  
Were the students (from very young children to college aged) “used” by the cause to generate publicity? What are the ethics of that tactic?

What are the “points of view” that the camera could have taken? How could this story have been framed in different ways?
Have we achieved equality?
Not in many industries...
Associated Press 2011
Hip Hop : Beyond the Beats and Rhymes Part 1
Full transcript