Every time I turn on the television, look at an advertisement, or pay attention to any form of media, I notice the lack of color plaguing our consciousness. African Americans have made a tremendous impact on the media industry within the last 30 years. We appear and sometimes dominate anchor positions on news programs, television talk shows, plays, production companies and more. African Americans direct hit movies, take leading roles, and in the last 5 years won Oscars for extraordinary performances.
Even with all the accomplishments of my race, I am still fascinated with the appearance of people chosen to represent African Americans in the public eye. I have been approached by people of other races on numerous occasions, and most are surprised when they hear me speak. “You're not like a normal black girl” “You're not really black person, you speak and act different.” Then I have to bite my tongue, and ask the person what exactly is a ‘real’ black person. Most black people that are placed in advertisements or positions to be seen are mostly lighter skinned, mixed race or seen as ignorant, or too comedic to take seriously and incapable of intelligent conversation. Why is it that darker skinned people are limited in the media industry? Are the old prejudices of skin color, beauty and intelligence still affecting the minds of people to this day? I think so, almost every time I get excited about seeing a black person represented in the media, I become discouraged because I feel like whoever it is, does not accurately represent nor appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of my race.
The corporate people that have the power to make the decisions seem to think that it’s easier for the public to see a pretty black person with lighter skin in their advertisement then a person of darker skin. Are these occurrences the age old lighter is better mentality, or an unconscious mistake by the media industry?
What do you think, is the media industry purposely putting African Americans with darker skin in the background? Do you think it’s a conscious effort to force African Americans to have and keep a negative self image?