BUS event addressed media stereotypes

Kelly Petryszyn

Students discuss image shown in TV, movies

Black United Students hosted a program last night in the lecture hall in Oscar Ritchie Hall that addressed stereotypes of black images in the media.

Upon entering the hall, students were greeted by a Pandora playlist of music by Gucci and other similar rappers.

BUS president Dylan Sellers said images in the media are flawed. He said the music was chosen because songs by Gucci contain stereotypical lyrics.

The program addressed stereotypes in television, movies and on the news. It was based on a Pan-African Studies class, Black Images, taught by lecturer Traci Williams. She listed a few stereotypes in the media by referencing Mammy, Madea, Carlton and more.

“Think about these characters,” she said.

Williams said the image of Mammy is someone who is overweight, overpowering, not beautiful and loud. She added that Mammy is depicted as someone people should be afraid of.

The crowd watched various videos that addressed the concerns of black images and filled a dry-erase board with television shows they watch that have an all-black cast. When the list was complete, Sellers asked what all the shows had in common. Many responded that most of the shows were comedies and the list lacked serious dramas.

Attendees debated the issue for more than an hour. Some said a problem with media stereotypes is that the black community is embracing them, while others said there is a lack of positive characters for black people to relate to.

“We are desensitized,” said Jamilia Bush, freshman early childhood education major. “We don’t analyze it as hurting our community.”

She added that when thinking of certain television shows like “The Cosby Show,” people have to think about where to draw the line with what is acceptable.

Sophomore communication studies major Lawrence Hudson, who likes “The Cosby Show,” said these shows need to be taken in on an individual basis.

“I thought he (Cosby) was successful,” Hudson said. “I don’t think some of the images they were talking about in the media are negative. It’s your own definition of success.”

Bush said she liked engaging in the discussion and thinking about the stereotypes she witnesses in the media.

“I like having intelligent conversations,” she said. “Change starts with oneself.”

Contact diversity reporter Kelly Petryszyn

at [email protected].