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Racialism and the Media

Black Jesus, Black Twitter, and the First Black American President


Venise T. Berry

Racialism and Media: Black Jesus, Black Twitter and the First Black American President is an exploration of how the nature of racial ideology has changed in our society. Yes, there are still ugly racists who push uglier racism, but there are also popular constructions of race routinely woven into mediated images and messages. This book examines selected exemplars of racialism moving beyond traditional racism. In the twenty-first century, we need a more nuanced understanding of racial constructions. Denouncing anything and everything problematic as racist or racism simply does not work, especially if we want to move toward a real solution to America’s race problems. Racialism involves images and messages that are produced, distributed, and consumed repetitively and intertextually based on stereotypes, biased framing, and historical myths about African American culture. These images and messages are eventually normalized through the media, ultimately shaping and influencing societal ideology and behavior. Through the lens of critical race theory these chapters examine issues of intersectionality in Crash, changing Black identity in Black-ish, the balancing of stereotypes in prime-time TV’s Black male and female roles, the power of Black images and messages in advertising, the cultural wealth offered through the Black Twitter platform, biased media framing of the first Black American president, the satirical parody of Black Jesus, contemporary Zip Coon stereotypes in film, the popularity of ghettofabulous black culture, and, finally, the evolution of black representation in science fiction.

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Chapter Five: Balancing Stereotypes: Black Male and Female Roles on Prime-Time Television



Balancing Stereotypes: Black Male and Female Roles on Prime-Time Television

Shonda Rhimes is one of the most prominent prime-time writers and producers on the small screen. Her successful shows have dominated Thursday nights on ABC for more than a decade. This includes, Grey’s Anatomy (2005–), Private Practice (2007–2013), Scandal (2012–2018), How to Get Away with Murder (2014–), and Station 19 (2018–). Shondaland’s move to Netflix in 2018 included the freedom to develop eight new shows under a nine-figure deal (Koblin, 2018).

In a 2018 Elle Magazine interview, Rhimes explained that the one thing she knew she wanted to do in her television shows was to represent everybody so that each episode looked like the real world.

… I was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. I was trying to figure out my speech, and I realized how it was about how you cannot be what you cannot see. I talked about having grown up watching Oprah every single day of my life. How this was a woman of color who did not look a certain way, who was [based] in Chicago, and who took over the world through television basically.

Rhimes has created complex television images, especially when it comes to black women. Olivia Pope in Scandal, Annalise Keating in How to get Away with Murder, and Miranda Bailey in Grey’s Anatomy each depicting a complicated black protagonist that helps to balance out black female...

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