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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 Nine: President Barack Obama: Biased Frames and Microaggressions



President Barack Obama: Biased Frames and Microaggressions

Barack Obama became the forty-fourth president of the United States of America on January 20, 2009 (Hulse, 2009). He was the first black president in the history of the country. Joseph (2017) believes that having a black president for eight years changed America forever.

The presence of the Obamas on the world stage confirmed deep seeded truths about black excellence, love and humanity that we’ve always taken for granted despite white denial of these very truths. … they broke powerful barriers installed by the nation’s brutal history of slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism.

The changes in society that led to the election of a black president have been enhanced by the browning of America. Klein (2018) believes that this is one reason why the election of a black president was so polarizing and the unity of a young, multiracial coalition created by the occasion also seemed stark and threatening to some. Although issues surrounding race were discussed less by President Obama while in office than by any other president since Franklin Roosevelt, race was still a relevant dynamic throughout his presidency according to Klein.

“Obama’s presidency didn’t force race to the forefront of American politics through rhetoric or action but through symbolism. Obama himself was a symbol of a changing ←127 | 128→America, of White America’s loss of power, of the fact that the country was changing and new groups were...

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