1. Representation of African American stereotypes in American cinema. Continuous debates are still occurring towards the representation of African Americans in Hollywood cinema which has been happening for over a century. Black men have been addressed in the media as lazy, violent, and several other negative archetypes that ruin the black community.
Because the jury did not favor black men, Tom Robinson did not receive a fair trial, although Atticus made a great case. Segregation directly disobeys the fourteenth amendment, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Maycomb Alabama is where the story, To Kill a Mockingbird takes place. Tom Robinson’s trial out come was not based on factual evidence. Mayella was lying to the jury, while Tom was completely innocent.
Micheaux created “race” films which consisted of an all-black cast for black audiences. Micheaux’s films were a reaction, and a necessity, to what was then a segregated Hollywood industry and a segregated society. Micheaux attempted to challenge ideas portrayed in other films including white supremacy.4 Micheaux’s second film Within Our Gates (1920), was his response to D.W Griffith’s Birth Of a Nation (1915).5 Birth Of a Nation promoted Anti-African American ideas with its emphasis on the Ku Klux Klan. In Birth Of a Nation, a false version of the South after the Civil War was portrayed in which blacks were presented as dominating Southern whites (almost all of whom are noble in the film) because of their strong presence in the South during the Reconstruction era.6
Racism, defined in moderation as prejudice or discrimination towards another race, deeming one’s own race as superior, is and has been a very hot topic in today’s society. Racism can range from anything to refusing service because of the color of skin, to blatantly killing an African American boy who’s walking down a street with an Arizona Tea and a pack of skittles. Living in a post-Obama administration, Americans believed that this country was finally a post-racist society. However, actions, both consciously and subconsciously, show otherwise. African Americans, or any person of color, have to constantly be on guard against racists acts.
Further, forms of racial representation accumulate meaning over time and the historical image of the black man as chattel, initially to perpetuate and justify his role as a slave, has today transformed into what Alexander Michelle calls "the racial caste system". In this essay, I will argue that blackface, as an act of racial impersonation, matters because it continues to evoke and sustain negative stereotypes that manifest in racial prejudice and discrimination. Nowhere is such negative stereotyping more evident than in the 1915 film, "Birth of a Nation" : an explicitly racist film that continues to stir conflict and has even been used as a recruitment piece for the Ku Klux Klan. Despite the psychological damage of such works, an examination of the popularity of the film at the time helps us in understanding the ideological influence of such representation. Although racialized representations of stereotypical black images were already in existence in print media, it was Birth of a Nation that brought to the forefront black stereotypes in cinema and portrayed major anti-black caricatures: loyal "Toms", the clownish
Tom Robinson, in To Kill a Mockingbird, fights racial prejudice to try and obtain justice. However, Tom Robinson is no match for the iron grasp racism has on the southern United States. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, racial prejudice leads to the unfair treatment of Tom Robinson during his court case and after his death. During the trial of Tom Robinson, racial prejudice and stereotyping lead to unfair bias amongst the jury, ultimately resulting in a wrongful conviction.
The most significant mistake Atticus has made as a parent would probably be taking up the Tom Robinson case. Tom Robinson was a black man who had been accused of raping a white girl, Maya Ewell. Despite knowing he had no chance of winning the case, Atticus felt compelled to defend Tom because he believed that it is morally right. In fact, many would probably agree that he was right to uphold justice and speak for Tom. However, he also knew that his entire family, especially Scout and Jem, would be subjected to much criticism, insults, slander and so on.
Mr. Gilmer would have said it’s the jury duty to convict Tom Robinson for what he has done. That Mayella will never know peace until Tom is hung for his crimes. That with Tom running free no women would be safe. He would want to play up the stereotypes of savage black man that can’t be trusted with white women, because that would hit home with the men on the jury. This tact Mr. Glimer hopes to distract them from the lack of facts.
238). Atticus made it very easy for the court to see that it was a grand possibility that Mr. Ewell indeed beat up his own daughter for wanting to be with a black man. From the quote I can sense that Atticus is proving very well that Mr. Ewell beat his own daughter, however no one in the courtroom wants to believe this statement is true. There is also substantial evidence leading to the fact that Mr. Ewell aggressively attacked his own flesh and blood. Scout ponders about Mr. Ewell being left handed and thinks, “If her right eye was blacked and she was beaten mostly on the right side of the face, it would tend to show that a left handed person did it.
We see clearly that white people in Maycomb have all the power. Even white trash like Bob Ewell is given the power to accuse an innocent black man simply because of the power the color of his skin has. Even though African Americans like Tom Robinson have better qualities as human beings than the Ewells they are under them because of the social inequality in Maycomb. These social divisions are destructive and irrational as it gives power to people like Bob Ewell to persecute Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson is not guilty but suffers death only because of the color of his skin and the racial segregation of the time.
Tom Robinson had no chance of freedom just because his skin was of a different color than what the jury preferred even though he was innocent, as Atticus Finch proved. Tom Robinson ended up getting killed in prison, leaving his wife and children to
Film makers continue to misrepresent African-Americans in movies depicting them as characters, such as the brash women, domestic workers, thugs, and the “magical negro”. The brash African American women is depicted as being rude and having an attitude towards people in her immediate surrounding. The brash women in depicted as being loud mouth and not caring for what other people might think of her. These images are bad since people who do not live in close to the African-American community could stereotype and assume that all African American women act with a brash personality. Surprisingly, many of the films that includes the brash stereotype is found in African American film maker Tyler Perry.
One of the most impactful films we watched in class was the video of Michelle Alexander’s lecture on her book, The New Jim Crow. I’ve heard bits about the book beforehand but watching the award winning author speak on it was truly eye-opening and the information she gave was phenomenal. The topic of her book and in turn the lecture was on the issue of mass incarceration within the U.S. and also how the “War on Drugs” is what made poor communities with people of color the main victims of mass incarceration. She discussed how some poor communities are seen as violent and sketchy because of their high levels of chronic joblessness. Her main point was making listeners aware of how even though we claim to be in an “era of colorblindness,” there
“If there’s just one kind of folks, why can they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other” (Lee 304). This quote is one of the most significant ones in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird because it is referring to the human race and how we are all practically the same, and yet people persecute one another because of racism. In the town of Maycomb, Alabama, one thing most people have in common is racism.