Cultural Portrayals of African Americans: Creating An Ethnic/Racial Identity

By Janis Faye Hutchinson | Go to book overview

African Americans vary in their attitudes toward black racial identity and vary in their public and private presentation of black racial identity. While the aforementioned attitudes exist, there may be another attitude, self-determination of black racial identity. African Americans are redefining blackness in light of a reclamation of their history, negative portrayals of blacks, and more opportunities to create/produce images about themselves for mass consumption. African Americans are determining what their image is and how it should be presented to the public. Self-determination of black racial identity is taking place among blacks and not those who simply want to categorize and predict their behavior.


CONCLUSIONS

bell hooks suggests that we must create counter-hegemonic art to combat the stigma of racism, sexism, classism, and other negative stereotypes. According to hooks, only counter-images can subvert the "dominant gaze" ( hooks 1990; Russell 1991). African Americans must continually counter the "dominant gaze" if they are to have high self-esteem and, therefore, a positive racial identity.

This book is not an attempt to determine who should control the presentation of cultural and behavioral images of ethnic minorities, rather, it explores the motivation behind interpretations of African Americans by themselves and "others." It is hoped that this book will increase awareness and questioning of the motivation behind scientific investigations and interpretations by the majority who are phenotypically and culturally different from the group they investigate and write about. This does not mean that you must belong to the group in order to study them. Rather, you should be aware of racial as well as class and gender biases. Although this may seem obvious, those who usually do the interpretation, white America, do not take the depth of it seriously.


REFERENCES

Allahar A. L. 1993. When Black First Became Worth Less. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 34(1-2): 39-55.

Archer D. and Gartner R. 1983. Violence and Crime in Cross National Perspective. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Asante M. 1980. Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change. Buffalo, N.Y.: Amulefi Publishing Co.

----- 1987. The Afrocentric Idea. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Banfield E. C. 1970. The Unheavenly City: The Nature and Future of Our Urban Crisis.

Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company.

Burke P. 1980. The Self: Measurement Implications from a Symbolic Interactionist Perspective. Social Psychology Quarterly 43: 18-29

Cross W. E., Jr. 1971. The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience: Toward a Psychology of Black Liberation. Black World 20(9): 13-27.

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