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The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America (Harvard Univ. Kennedy School of Gov't Goldsmith Book Prize Winner; Amer. Political ... in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion) Paperback – December 15, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0226210766 ISBN-10: 0226210766

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion
  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (December 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226210766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226210766
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The cultural, economic and social gap between white and black lives in America is regarded by many sociologists and scholars as enormous--largely because most white people learn about African-American life through the media, particularly television. Accordingly, professors Entman (communications, North Carolina University) and Rojecki (journalism, Indiana University) set out to analyze perceptions of race by surveying a wide range of American TV shows in which race is represented, including news broadcasts, dramas and commercials, as well as in Hollywood films. They discovered that overwhelmingly negative portrayals permeate American television. In addition to traditional characterizations, there are also "new forms of racial differentiation" that are more subtle but still biased (e.g., blacks appear in more commercials, but only for less-expensive products). Using nuanced measurements and arguments, the authors attempt to "get beyond any simple scheme that categorizes Whites as either racist or not" by working from a model that reflects "complicated and conflicted racial sentiments." Entman and Rojecki look at how television news focuses on black poverty and crime out of proportion to the material reality of black lives, how black "experts" are only interviewed for "black-themed" issues and how "black politics" are distorted in the news, and conclude that, while there are more images of African-Americans on television now than there were years ago, these images often don't reflect a commitment to "racial comity" or community-building between the races. Thoroughly researched and convincingly argued, this examination of how the mainstream media deals with race is a probing and useful addition to media studies. (June)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

One of The Progressive's Best Books of 2000. Winner of the American Political Science Association's Robert E. Lane Award for Best Book in Political Psychology and the Frank Luther Mott-KTA Journalism and Mass Communication Book Award.

"This book has the potential to be the most important book on race in the past three decades."-David Sears

Drawing from close and creative analysis of television news reports, sitcoms, commercials, feature films, and from candid interviews with white Americans, The Black Image in the White Mind offers a comprehensive look at the intricate patterns of racial depiction in the mass media, revealing how those patterns shape and reflect the ambivalent attitudes of Whites toward Blacks.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Bakari Chavanu on June 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a very important book of research. Though written in sociologist language (lots of statistics and repetitition claims), this is one work that provides meticulous reserach about how the media help perpetuate racial stereotypes and prototypes in this society.
As a teacher who is studying widely literature about the media, I found Entman and Rojecki's work useful for providing a lens to better analyze media representations of Black and White people. The authors contend that "Blacks now occupy a kind of limbo status in White America's thinking, neither fully accepted nor wholly rejected by the dominant culture. The ambiguity of Blacks' situation gives particular relevance and perhaps potency to the images of African Americans in the media."
They show that though representations of Black people are quantitatively better than in the past, these representations still convey stereotypical or ambiguous images of Blacks. For example, though there has been sharp increase of Black male actors in movies, their roles still revolve around plots that focus on sports, crime, and violence. In the area of news media, Blacks are usually presented as sources of disruption, as victims, and as complaining supplicants. These type of images, they contend, help to maintain a gap in what they refer to as comity on the part of Whites toward Blacks and other racial minorities in this country.
They provide a well known but much needed reiteration of why the media maintains these stereotypes and marginalizations of racial minorities: largely it's eoncomics."Media workers," they argue, "seek to make money for their organizations and advance their own careers. That means that they must stay vigilantly attuned to the presumed tastes of their target audiences.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an important and well-researched study of the image of African Americans as presented in the media (mostly TV and Movies). Indeed, it is a "must read" for anyone interested in white attitudes regarding African Americans. The authors begin with a nice review the dominant survey research approach to gauging change in racial attitudes. They also discuss their own survey and qualitative study of Whites living in the Indianapolis metro area. The findings of the in-depth qualitative interviews are particularly interesting and valuable for folks interested in the validity of survey research on racial attitudes.
Rightly reserving the use of the counterproductive term "racist" for those who feel Blacks are a "lower order of humanity," the authors develop a framework for categorizing White American views of the African American population from "low denial" (enlightened) to "high denial" (overtly racist) (chapter 2).
In their view, most whites fall between these poles--termed by the authors as "ambivalent" (a mix of positive and negative views about Blacks.)
Unapologetically integrationist (assimilationist?) in their views, the authors see "low denial" whites as those folks who view African Americans sympathetically and empathetically, (as brothers/sisters), who share fundamental interests, but who suffer unique barriers to equal opportunity.
What seems to differentiate the "low-denial" whites from their well-meaning but "ambivalent" peers is that low-denial whites uncritically accept the victimization explanation for the social problems of the Black community.
This is where the trouble begins...
According to the authors, enlightened Whites see the Black community as largely helpless in the face of White dominated society.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...as I continue from my Master's degree and onto my Ph.D., I needed more resources for "How the expectation of college attendance is visually communicated: A study of African-American students' exposure, perception, and attitudes of college advertising", and this book was highly recommended to me. It not only gives the what, the how, and the why, but it gives a historical background to get a deeper understanding of "The Black Image in the White Mind".
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