Essays

AlKandery 6

Ahmad AlKandery

Professor Matthew Feltman

Race and Ethnicity in Cinema

June 16, 2016

Final Exam Essays

Question A

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva describes four frames of color-blind racism. This essay will examine how the naturalization of personal preferences frame and the cultural racism frame manifest in real-life and in movie production.

The naturalization of personal preferences frame occurs when the dominant groups justify inherent racial inequalities as if they were natural processes and occurrences. In real-life, I have witnessed a White colleague make comments that could be construed as racist. She demonstrated colorblind racism when she noted that Latinos were bound to live in the poor neighborhoods because some of them have survived life in the favelas in Brazil. The implication was that she did not appreciate the struggles people like W.E.B. Dubois put in to reverse BlackExceptionalism. Ideally, the Racial Ideology held by people like my friend mentioned above amounts to Red Facing. In the movie Precious, the personal preferences frame is evident as viewers observe the daily struggles that Precious, the lead character, undergoes. Her miserable life is exacerbated by the unforgiving neighborhood in which she lives. The same applies to LUV, which shows a young man learning bad habits from his ex-convict uncle. Some would argue that the racism that reveals in the movie is a normal social problem.

Cultural racism happens when the dominant group denounces the minority group by attempting to explain its socio-economic standing. The dominant group assumes the minority group failed to make the right choice that would have made it adapt to the normal culture. In real-life, people often condemn others for their dysfunctional family and cultural values. For example, I once witnessed a correctional facility and witnessed the Mass Incarceration of Black people. I was in the company of a White teenager, who exhibited ignorance towards mixed race inmates by referring to them as Tragic Mulattos. Additionally, he referred to some of the inmates as Br’er Rabbit Stories, which indicated that they could have their way in the cells through trickery. However, a closer scrutiny of my friend revealed he suffered from Double Consciousness as advanced by W.E.B. Dubois.

From the movies that have been watched in the class, Dope depicts cultural racism frame, where the majority castigate the young men for the choices they make concerning crime and drug abuse. The songs they sing depict a deprived upbringing, and the hope of the top student going to Harvard is dismissed as an impossibility because of his background. Hence, forms of subtle racism are evident in cinema productions.

Question B

There is consensus that negative stereotypes of minorities in cinema and the media need to be addressed. However, the manner in which the issues are handled in cinema and media could create misunderstandings and negate the gains made so far. In light of this, movie producers need to address the issue of minority representation as it could be construed positively or negatively.

In the movie Selma, the portrayal of the struggle for racial equality and the elimination of racial discrimination are impressive. While the movie shows the struggle that the minority went through in the quest for equality is thought provoking, the violent nature of the response from the authorities is unnerving. The scene where King is punched in the mouth upon reaching Selma could show him as a man who dared to stand up to the authorities. However, the excessive violence could also be interpreted to mean that the majority has its way.

On the same note, Dope shows young men struggling to overcome their addictions. They also desire to go to school and acquire an education that would enable them to live comfortable lives away from crime. While this depiction is positive, it is notable that it shows young Blacks as people who cannot attain the good things in life unless the society helps them. In the movie, everyone lives in Inglewood, California. As a result, the focus on Malcolm’s daily struggles is discomforting because it seeks to portray his flaws while conveniently disregarding his quest for a better life.

Similarly, Bamboozled and Fruitvale Station show the struggles that people of color undergo. In Bamboozled, the program director at the cable TV network tries to convince the main character that he is black but exhibits the opposite characteristics. The fall of the main actor may be an act of satire, but viewers might argue the owner of the TV station misuses his talent. Fruitvale Station narrates the story of the murder of a Black teenager by a White police officer. The movie might elicit sympathy while increasing hatred between the two groups.

Question D

African American stereotypes in cinema have not changed much in the history of making movies in America. Stereotyping continues to manifest, where the FourFrames of Colorblind Racism are clearly evident. In essence, one stereotype about African Americans is that most do not appreciate education and would readily drop out of college or school at the slightest prompting. This stereotype represents a form of Community Culture Wealth, where the majority’s continuous portrayal of African Americans in the bad light becomes a form of Critical Race Theory. Apparently, the Third Cinema has not countered this depiction successfully because the Blacks still lack Visual Sovereignty.

In Precious, the main character is a young black woman who goes through untold suffering. She conceives a child after being raped, is taunted at school for being overweight, and is raped by her father. The mocking cruelty that Precious goes through is the typical presentation of African Americans in the movies. Hence, the movie shows that an African American girl cannot complete school satisfactorily.

Similarly, Dope shows young African Americans who struggle with living in an unforgiving neighborhood. The movie portrays them as drug addicts who cannot achieve their education goals. Malcolm desires to score high grades and secure admission to Harvard but the hardships stuck against him and his friends are momentous. Apparently, the Whites are still suffering from Imperialist Nostalgia.

In Fruitvale Station and LUV do not portray African Americans positively. In Fruitvale Station, the movie shows African Americans as criminals who are likely to be shot by the police. The implication is that African Americans cannot concentrate on their studies, complete their studies, and secure formal employment. Evidently, the depiction is akin to theVanishing American. In essence, it is imperative for African Americans to regain Visual Sovereignty and produce movies that cast the minority groups in good light.

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