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Racialism and the Media

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

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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 Eight: Black Twitter, Interpretive Communities, and Cultural Capital

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Black Twitter, Interpretive Communities, and Cultural Capital

In her paper, “Whose Culture has Capital?” Yosso (2005) challenges the traditional top down interpretation of cultural capital to argue instead for a bottom up notion of community cultural wealth. Based on Critical Race Theory, her goal is to draw on the knowledge and strength that people of color encompass in the fight for social and racial justice. This chapter explores Yosso’s idea as an essential part of Black Twitter which has quickly become an inspiration for community cultural capital across the United States and around the world.

For many years black people were considered lacking in social and cultural capital. The cultural capital theory proposed by Pierre Bourdieu (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979) suggested that as a hierarchical society the upper and middle classes were more valuable than the lower class. Social media has turned that idea upside down with Black Twitter emerging as a powerful and effective tool for communication and resistance. In 2002, Franklin defined cultural capital as, “a sense of group consciousness and collective identity that serves as a resource aimed at the advancement of the entire group” (p. 177).

Interpretive Communities

Black Twitter challenges normal communication pathways shaping an empowered interpretive community. The idea of “interpretive community” as a place for shared meaning and social interaction has been presented by scholars like Fish (1980), Radway (1984), Jensen (1991), Zelizer (1993), Berkowitz and TerKeurst (1999). Schroder (1994) added...

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