The Home of the Rattlers

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Where has all the color gone?

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?


  1. I dont think anything that takes place in the media happens by accident. Those in control want to appeal to as many people as possible. There are still some people who have racist ideas. If an advertisement for a product uses black images then some companies feel they will lose the dollars or support from those who are not black. Just my opinion on a touchy situation.

  2. Wow, I was definitely saying that about a Clean & Clear commercial just a minute ago. I gree with Cederrick; nothing in the media is done by accident. Every move is well thought out and calculated. It seems like every "ethnic" person to appear favorably in the media in fair skinned with curly hair. I wouldn't go as far as saying that it is a conscious effort to diminish African American self image, but that certainly does take place.

  3. I agree with cederrick wholeheartedly. This has been an issue that I as a black person have asked myself. It doesnt seem fair that the media has basically belittled the African American race by not using people that represents the majority of black people. They try to accomodate and "satisfy" the African American culture with "just enough but not quite" black person. And it just makes me wonder the motives of the media. Is it really to represent America as a land where every race has the chance to be all they can be? Or is it to subconsciously make one race feel inferior to another?

  4. I certainly feel that the images of African -Americans typically displayed in the media are inaccurate and one-sided. Often times African - Americans are displayed as ignorant an uneducated. In some cases I do feel the African - Americans are purposely depicted in these ways to hinder our progression in American society and create division between the races. Also, I believe that darker skinned African - Americans are not as prominent as those with fairer skin because for many years dark - skinned African - Americans were viewed as more threatening to white America therefore they try to keep them away from main stream media. Whereas light - skinned African - Americans are more likely to be accepted in American society.

  5. I think that although the statements and comments above are true, there are some instances where black women are noticing these trends and doing something about them.
    For example, yes we have all seen Beyonce in her NUMEROUS commercials, and we all know about her ‘skin lightening’ controversy. But I’ve also seen singer Estelle do a Crystal Light commercial, and up-and-rising star Jasmine Sullivan sing for a Cotton commercial. Where as I do see more stereotypes than I do positive images, the fact that our generation is noticing this and starting to speak up for change has started to show and as long as we continue to voice our concerns, these injustices will soon be reversed.

  6. I feel that to often black people want other races to accept them but I think we must learn how to except ourselves first as being African Americans. Anytime a African American is portrayed their are usually fair skinned or light skinned whatever you want to call it even within our own community. I remember years ago in order to get into Spelman you couldn't be darker than a paper bag that was one way your eligibility was determined. I mean when we think of girls in videos, not saying that that's a positive image but their usually light skinned with good hair. Whatever good hair maybe. When we think about the different people that host shows on BET (BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION). When it was owned by a black man how many of them look like the average person? How many of them look like you and me? I agree that dark skinned blacks are often not portrayed in media, but before we start point fingers and blaming others we need to look at ourselves and be honest and ask the question. Do we even accept dark skinned blacks as being African Americans?

    Ebony Williams

  7. I agree that there has been an increase in the amount of darker skinned blacks in the media and advertisments, but it the ratio of mixed black people or the absence of black people is still obvious to me. In my opinion there should be no discussion on whether or how many black people to put in an ad, or on a television show. There are no second thoughts or counting, it should be second nature to just chose THE BEST person for a advertisment or campaign, the color of your skin or race should have nothing to do with anything. Me and my friends sometimes make a game of counting how many black people or people of color are in a television segment or ad. Because most times on main sram ads you can count on one hand how many black people you in within a 30 minute time span. I agree with cederrick, nothing is by accident, and black people seem to be strategically placed in everything, and that bothers me.


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