African American Characters on Television and in the Movies

Because of the legacy of slavery in the United States and persistent discrimination against African Americans throughout history, popular culture and the entertainment industry have long presented Blacks in a negative light. African American characters have not been completely rooted in reality, and some critics note that they say more about White pathologies and fears than the complex lived experiences and culture of the Black community. From the inception of motion pictures and television, African Americans have often been portrayed as deviant, violent, dim-witted, or as comic relief. This entry reviews the history of African American characters in both film and television.

Historic Stereotypes in Film and Television

The film Ethnic Notions (1987) highlights several popular stereotypes of Black men that have their roots in history, including ...

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