Library Dissertation Showcase

‘Othering Blackness’: An Analysis into the role of Illustration and the media in reflecting racist ideologies and fomenting the racial liberalisation of America

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

History appears permeated with visual imagery and illustrations of African American tropes, derogatively demeaning their identities as human beings. Yet today, these visual tropes would be generally arbitrated as racially immoral and the masses have become more sensitised to imagery. That is why this study delves into questioning the role of illustration and the media in reflecting racist propaganda and fomenting, but also continuing, the liberalisation of America. The study will dissect the racial stereotypes perpetuated through the media, that amplify the deprecating tropes that are associated with Black people within American culture. Alluding to the opinions of leaders of this era, discussion will turn to the political influence upon visual media and thus, its social and cultural impact. The study will dissect how constructions of African Americans inflicted upon people’s unconscious psyche, referencing psychological theory to explain the correlation between imagery and racial tensions. It reflects upon the importance of the horrific images of Emmett Till, which drew attention for their level of shock value and uncensored wide publication. Significantly, it will discuss the extent to which images propelled the ‘Civil Rights Movement’, influencing activists to galvanise outrage against racial injustice. The study will also debate how imagery was used to regain control of the Black narrative by creating a mutual fear. Drawing parallels to the Black Lives Matter movement, this study will dissect the importance of imagery’s vital role in gaining emotional reactions and inciting new behaviours. The study will explore a variety of texts, interview relevant groups, and apply visual analysis of racial imagery and illustrations.
Investigation suggests that imagery is an underestimated power within society, used within seemingly passive media forms to disguise its broader messages. The idea that racism has been liberated in America will be challenged, as racism appears to be continuously embroiled within imagery. We appear to have lost overtly racist stereotypes however, unconscious racism perhaps remains within popular culture. The study also proposes that the reclaiming of the Black narrative to sedate tensions ironically induces the emotion of fear, thus fuelling more tension between the races.

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