The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

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Stereotypes in action: Black women move for recognition

As+time+goes+on%2C+Black+people+become+primary+characters+instead+of+background+characters.+The+more+representation+you+get+the+more+complex+your+representation+can+be.+%0A%28Made+by+Faith+Wallace+on+Canva%29
Faith Wallace
As time goes on, Black people become primary characters instead of background characters. The more representation you get the more complex your representation can be. (Made by Faith Wallace on Canva)

Martin Lawrence is well known for his role in the Big Mama’s House franchise. Eddie Murphy in Norbit. Tyler Perry made his fortune in the Madea movies. Do you notice a trend?

Despite being well-seasoned actors, they have all dressed up as Black women. They have played into the negative image of Black women as loud, aggressive and fat. They have referenced the many stereotypes in Hollywood brought by decades of white dominance on the screen. 

For example, there is the mammy stereotype where Black women are depicted as old, overweight and loyal to their white masters. Then there is the sapphire stereotype, they are sassy and emasculate the men around them. There is the jezebel stereotype which is characterized by her overtly sexual behavior for men. 

In these films, Black men who dress up as Black women often play into these stereotypes. In Madea, she is a sapphire who is seen as crazy in her ways with the physical characteristics of the mammy stereotype.

When Perry was called for this stereotypical role he said that he drew inspiration from the women in his life. That his characters came out of love and, while that might be true, they are still rooted in stereotypes. The act of dressing up patronizes black femininity as a pig in lipstick. 

This image of black femininity doesn’t just stay in the community, it’s consumed by the masses. It reinforces the negative stereotypes about Black women in an industry with so few Black women. It’s disappointing that instead of hiring Black women, they put a wig on.

These stereotypes don’t stay in the movies. In a study done by the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media called, “A New Piece to the Puzzle: Examining the Effects of Television Portrayals of African-Americans,”  they found that audiences were more willing to help African Americans if they were portrayed in a negative light.

This is something that Hollywood takes advantage of and cheers for. The first Black actress to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel who played into the stereotype of a mammy in Gone with the Wind. Then in 2014, decades later, Lupita Nyon’go won supporting actress for playing a slave in 12 Years A Slave

Not much has changed in terms of recognition. Black women still have to be portrayed as negative to win an Oscar. 

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About the Contributor
Faith Wallace, Style and Culture Writer
In her fourth year, SENIOR Faith Wallace has taken on the role as staff member. She hopes to get journalistic experience and improve her writing. She previously took one Newswriting 1 and 2.  Wallace is in mock trials, astrology, and culinary club. She enjoys reading, cooking, and re-watching shows like Adventure Time. She is interested in learning more about economics and wants to travel to Italy.   
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