Black Demons: The Media's Depiction of the African American Male Criminal Stereotype

Black Demons: The Media's Depiction of the African American Male Criminal Stereotype

Black Demons: The Media's Depiction of the African American Male Criminal Stereotype

Black Demons: The Media's Depiction of the African American Male Criminal Stereotype

Synopsis

The stereotype of the African American male as a criminal element in society continues to be a major obstacle to greater racial harmony and the elimination of discrimination and racism on all levels. Often, this criminal stereotype is internalized by African American youth, so they are made to feel as though delinquent behavior is expected from them, and many fall into this trap. Black Demons examines this stereotype and contends that much of the blame for its perpetuation comes from U.S. mass media's negative depictions of African American males. Rome argues that these images foster the myths that help to deepen and strengthen the stereotypes that have plagued the African American community since colonial times. By examining the origins of this criminal stereotype, how it has been used historically, and how it is presently employed, Rome reveals a dangerous current in media depictions of African Americans, one that threatens that community and taints U.S. society as it tries to overcome the legacy of racism in the United States.

Excerpt

This volume marks the launching of an exciting new interdisciplinary series on Crime, Media, and Popular Culture from Praeger Publishers. Because of the pervasiveness of media in our lives and the salience of crime and criminal justice issues, we feel it is especially important to provide a home for scholars who are engaged in innovative and thoughtful research on important crime and mass media issues.

This series will focus on process issues such as the social construction of crime and moral panics; presentation issues such as the images of victims, offenders, and criminal justice figures in news and popular culture; and effects such as the influence of the media on criminal behavior and criminal justice administration.

With regard to this latter issue—effects of media and popular culture—as this preface was being written, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets reported that two young half-brothers (ages 20 and 15) in Riverside, California, had confessed to strangling their mother and disposing of her body in a ravine. The story was attracting particular attention because the brothers told police they had gotten the idea of cutting off her head and hands to prevent identification from a recent episode of the award-winning HBO series, The Sopranos. As the Los Angeles Times noted, this again brought into the spotlight the debate about the influence of violent media such as The Sopranos, about New Jersey mobsters, on susceptible consumers.

In this series, scholars engaged in research on issues that examine the complex nature of our relationship with media. Peter Berger and Thomas Luck-

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