Cover image for The black image in the white mind : media and race in America
Title:
The black image in the white mind : media and race in America
Author:
Entman, Robert M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xix, 305 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780226210759
Format :
Book

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Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library P94.5.A372 U55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Living in a segregated society, white Americans learn about African Americans not through personal relationships but through the images the media show them. The Black Image in the White Mind offers the most comprehensive look at the intricate racial patterns in the mass media and how they shape the ambivalent attitudes of Whites toward Blacks.

Using the media, and especially television, as barometers of race relations, Robert Entman and Andrew Rojecki explore but then go beyond the treatment of African Americans on network and local news to incisively uncover the messages sent about race by the entertainment industry-from prime-time dramas and sitcoms to commercials and Hollywood movies. While the authors find very little in the media that intentionally promotes racism, they find even less that advances racial harmony. They reveal instead a subtle pattern of images that, while making room for Blacks, implies a racial hierarchy with Whites on top and promotes a sense of difference and conflict. Commercials, for example, feature plenty of Black characters. But unlike Whites, they rarely speak to or touch one another. In prime time, the few Blacks who escape sitcom buffoonery rarely enjoy informal, friendly contact with White colleagues--perhaps reinforcing social distance in real life.

Entman and Rojecki interweave such astute observations with candid interviews of White Americans that make clear how these images of racial difference insinuate themselves into Whites' thinking.

Despite its disturbing readings of television and film, the book's cogent analyses and proposed policy guidelines offer hope that America's powerful mediated racial separation can be successfully bridged.


"Entman and Rojecki look at how television news focuses on black poverty and crime out of proportion to the material reality of black lives, how black 'experts' are only interviewed for 'black-themed' issues and how 'black politics' are distorted in the news, and conclude that, while there are more images of African-Americans on television now than there were years ago, these images often don't reflect a commitment to 'racial comity' or community-building between the races. Thoroughly researched and convincingly argued."-- Publishers Weekly

"Drawing on their own research and that of a wide array of other scholars, Entman and Rojecki present a great deal of provocative data showing a general tendency to devalue blacks or force them into stock categories."--Ben Yagoda, New Leader

Winner of the Frank Luther Mott Award for best book in Mass Communication and the Robert E. Lane Award for best book in political psychology.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The cultural, economic and social gap between white and black lives in America is regarded by many sociologists and scholars as enormousÄlargely because most white people learn about African-American life through the media, particularly television. Accordingly, professors Entman (communications, North Carolina University) and Rojecki (journalism, Indiana University) set out to analyze perceptions of race by surveying a wide range of American TV shows in which race is represented, including news broadcasts, dramas and commercials, as well as in Hollywood films. They discovered that overwhelmingly negative portrayals permeate American television. In addition to traditional characterizations, there are also "new forms of racial differentiation" that are more subtle but still biased (e.g., blacks appear in more commercials, but only for less-expensive products). Using nuanced measurements and arguments, the authors attempt to "get beyond any simple scheme that categorizes Whites as either racist or not" by working from a model that reflects "complicated and conflicted racial sentiments." Entman and Rojecki look at how television news focuses on black poverty and crime out of proportion to the material reality of black lives, how black "experts" are only interviewed for "black-themed" issues and how "black politics" are distorted in the news, and conclude that, while there are more images of African-Americans on television now than there were years ago, these images often don't reflect a commitment to "racial comity" or community-building between the races. Thoroughly researched and convincingly argued, this examination of how the mainstream media deals with race is a probing and useful addition to media studies. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice Review

This highly recommended study traces the reciprocal relationship between white racial attitudes and the presentation of blacks in the mass media. The authors have worked hard to make their carefully nuanced presentation, based on a significant body of empirical data, clear and understandable. Nevertheless, it is not an easy read. Entman and Rojecki demonstrate that the central attitude of most whites is the denial of both existing racism and white privilege. The largely unconscious racism in commercials, films, magazines, newspapers, and television (both news and entertainment) is demonstrated beyond debate. A telling illustration is the examination of a multitude of white reviews of major feature films in which there is not a single mention of their racist subtexts. Shows such as Bill Cosby's are two-edged swords making blacks visible while supporting white denial of racism. Many readers will use the cute term "politically correct" to disregard these findings and reinforce denial, but careful reading by practitioners may help them become aware of their largely unconscious racism. There is extensive annotation, charts, graphs, and tables as well as a Web cite for more extensive documentation. P. E. Kane; emeritus, SUNY College at Brockport


Table of Contents

Tables and Figures
Preface to the Paperback Edition
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 The Racial Chameleon
2 White Racial Attitudes in the Heartland
3 Culture, Media, and the White Mind: The Character of Their Content
4 The Meaning of Blackness in Network News
5 Violence, Stereotypes, and African Americans in the News
6 Benign Neglect in the Poverty of the News
7 Affirming Discord
8 Black Power
9 Prime-Time Television: White and Whiter
10 Advertising Whiteness
11 Race at the Movies
12 Reflecting on the End of Racial Representation
Appendix
Data Tables
Notes
References
Index

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