"Reflection on the End of Racial Representation" Chapter Discussion Essay Sample

Published: 2022-07-08
"Reflection on the End of Racial Representation" Chapter Discussion Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Race Media
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1822 words
16 min read

"The reflection on the end of racial representation" is the last chapter (chapter twelve) of the book, "The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America." Chapter twelve summarizes and brings together the findings of the whole book, the significance of the findings and identifying solutions to tackling media's image of the Black race in the White minds. The authors of the book, Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki (2007) in general focus on the role of the media as a barometer of cultural change when looking at race and racial group dynamics. The media has both positive and negative portrayal of racial issues that have ultimately had an impact on the society's perception of the Black race. The authors put emphasis on encouraging audience and the media to be aware of their role in racial comity with a goal of ending color consciousness which should not be a source of debate in the years to come (Entman and Rojecki, 2007). This paper aims at discussing the main points that the authors seek to convey from the twelfth chapter with key facts and arguments.

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In chapter twelve, the authors bring together a summary of the whole book (i.e. the first eleven chapters). As the chapter's title suggests, the authors are trying to look at racial representation with a suggestion on new goals or end for media through critical self-awareness when dealing with racial signals (Entman and Rojecki, 2007). The chapter looks at various ideas that form an understanding of media's role in creating racial perceptions and providing solutions to alleviating these problems. The chapter identifies major elements in television, films and news channels that have portrayed the Black race in bad light especially when compared to their White counterparts. The authors contend that there are particular strides that have been made to end racial discrimination through the media especially in areas such as films and television shows. However, there is still much to be done to create a level playing field that does not identify race as criteria when reporting news, writing scripts, and casting characters in television shows and movies. The findings of the Indianapolis Survey conducted earlier is also summarized in the chapter (Entman and Rojecki, 2007).

Andrew Rojecki and Robert Entman (2007) argued that the cultural cognitive process has been used by the media over the years to categorize different cultures with various distinctions. The cognitive culture process is the process that forms distinctions among various groups (Stowers, 2007). The media has used this process by creating identities using mediated images that form one's nation and people. Black portrayal through these mediated images are used to identify and determine the level of blackness that White Americans imagine of African Americans. The process sadly is also used by the African Americans to identify themselves in the community (Entman & Rojecki, 2007). Although different cultures and races behave differently and can be viewed distinctively, the media has played a major role in affecting the cognitive culture process (Gilbert, 2006).

The authors also bring to light Liminality and ambivalence. Liminality is the concept that describes a race's (in this case Blacks) transition from rejection to acceptance. The media as a barometer of cultural integration and accelerator of both cultural separation and political conflict has been the biggest contributor to this concept. Indeed, the media's images and portrayal of Blacks has influenced the White's beliefs, fears, and hopes about the acceptance of African Americans. Racism has its roots in enslavement, domination and domestic repression which are an anathema to society. However, although racism has been detached from political ends, its residue still exist. This is why such behaviors as living in segregated communities and marrying within color lines are encouraged even today. Success for African Americans is achievable although hard work, restraint, and discipline are all Blacks need to succeed as depicted in the media (Entman & Rojecki, 2007).

Continuing with the discussion, the authors identified "the saints or sinner syndrome" in chapter 2 as a true representation of liminality. Television has categorized Blacks to be either successful, virtuous and gifted or criminal, corrupt and dangerous. Marianne, a 26-year-old white female from chapter 2 further highlights this issue by identifying that there is never a portrayal of an African American doing normal things (Entman & Rojecki, 2007). Indeed, the identification of a race using two characteristics as being extremely good (saint) or extremely bad (sinner) is a characterization that White Americans use to identify Blacks in the society. It is important to note that most of the Black race is contained in the middle of these extremes leading normal lives raising families and trying to survive in these harsh times (Gilbert, 2006).

Ambivalence is having mixed feelings about an issue. The authors raise the point with consideration to the fact that there are successful Blacks especially in athletics, business and in many other fields, while at the same time, they are portrayed more for crime, corruption and living in unsecured neighborhoods has put the ambivalent White society at an awkward position (Stowers, 2007). The White society has mixed feelings about the Black society. The Indianapolis survey conducted in the book identified that Whites associated Blacks with poverty and welfare cheating even though they had been exposed to different images (Entman and Rojecki, 2007). Indeed, the times have changed and the media has tried to some extent portray another image of the Black man. However, the negative image is ingrained in the White American's mind and it will take a whole lot to view the Black race differently (Stowers, 2007)

The authors also argued about the existence of cultural segregation present in television's advertising and entertainment. Cable has broadened television spectrum which has created patterns of separation, disengagement, and exaggeration (Entman and Rojecki, 2007). Blacks and Whites appear differently with different stories that depict some racial difference, and particularly, the Whites have better roles in these shows. Films are more racial progressive but have a bit of bias similar to television shows attached to them (Gilbert, 2006). These show some strides in certain aspects such as films, however, much of the negative casting are given more to the Blacks rather than to the Whites. Also, the authors identify to the fact that any instance where a film has both races as leading roles, the White take more limelight and in the end appear as the main star which may not be the case (Entman and Rojecki, 2007).

Another point that the authors portray in this chapter is objectivity. The discussion of objectivity is important as it highlights the need to end media's castigation of Blacks. Objectivity is ensuring balance through the avoidance of bias (Stowers, 2007). It is important to note that objectivity is now becoming a major element of media coverage. However, this has failed to banish the problem. Instead, it has boosted the affirmative action debate which has promoted Whites' fear of Black crime and their hostility to Blacks' political and other interests. The dramatic appeal which is a journalistic approach has also caused social conflict. The depiction of Black advancement to hold White interests hostage has fueled the affirmative action debate (Entman and Rojecki, 2007). Incidentally, when a reporter/journalist reports objectively about particular issues especially those that touch on racial subject he/she is viewed as a sympathizer and one who is favoring a certain part of the population and at the same time pitting it against another (Gilbert, 2006). Objectivity is a fragile subject and although it is the right way of doing things, one should be ready to deal with the consequences that may emerge from it.

Regarding the representation of races, the authors argue that it is possible that the Black leaders themselves could be catalysts towards the overt group based government assistance that associates the African American community as reported in the media. Black leaders have over the years rallied the Black community using language associated with civil rights movement of the 1960s yet we are living in modern times where much of the issues found in the civil rights actions have already been met. As such, these leaders look like whiners and complainers portraying the Blacks as an oppressed group rather than a progressive society. Such images still make the Whites view the Blacks negatively (Stowers, 2007).

The authors also identify journalism's tendency to identify an issue as a societal subject whereas it only touches a particular individual in the society. Rather than report about a particular issue touching a particular Black individual, the media has also enhanced the racist suspicion by prototyping and representing the larger Black community and comparing them with White images as the criteria to look up to (Entman and Rojecki, 2007). Journalism is about the accuracy of information without the addition of inaccurate inferences. It is essential that journalism reports facts and follow these suggestions to help solve the issue: there are available facts relevant to race issue, e.g., crime statistics and welfare budgets, American societies should know about these facts without placing caveats, and self-critical awareness where facts are in dispute rather than close mind rejection or unmindful acceptance (Entman and Rojecki, 2007, Gilbert, 2006).The writers recommend that the media should provide an accurate representation of facts, seek to create frames in audience's minds based on facts, and provide self-critical material that contextualizes and clarifies reasons for image depiction. It is essential that although journalism may feel undermined, using these guidelines will help tone down racial imagery created by the media. The writers recommend and encourage critical audience awareness and deliberation over media content to influence culture and society's perceptions of race and racial imagery (Entman and Rojecki, 2007).

In the end, the question that arises from this discussion is "Does the journalist have a responsibility of creating a mental image and representation in the audience's mind or does he/she create an accurate visual and verbal record an idea living the audience with the task of creating their own explanation and judgment about an issue?" "Are the over representation of Blacks as being victims of crime and perpetrators of crime as presented by Gilens necessary?(Entman and Rojecki, 2007)? All these have affirmative answers, however, it is difficult to understand the media's products; how these products are received and the social implications of these products to the society. Even with that, racial images mirror and shape culture. It is, therefore, critical that the media plays its role in highlighting society accurately without bias that creates better images about Blacks in the minds of their White counterparts (Stowers, 2007).

In conclusion, chapter twelve brings out important points towards the understanding of the media's role in creating and confirming an end to perceived racial tension. The press continues playing an essential role in shaping people's perception and culture conformity. Major points such as objectivity, cognitive culture process, culture segregation, liminality and ambivalence form major discussion points in the chapter. In the end, it is important for the media to move towards social responsibility which is the right step towards social and cultural realignment.

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