The Black Image in the White Mind: Educational Consequences of Media Racism Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • Lanier, Sheldon
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • In the United States of America, Black male students often face a cultural disconnect when entering classrooms today. As a result, outcomes for these students, including academic ones, are both alarming and reprehensible. It is conceivable that a link exists between the exposure to negative racial portrayals of Black males in the media, teachers’ perceptions of their Black male students, and the negative treatments of Black males that result. These perceptions are important when examining how they can affect school policies and practices institutionally. Given the multitude of structures that help shape the negative outcomes of Black males in this country, mixed methods on both quantitative and qualitative inquiry were used to explore and examine three major research questions. The Wire was used as the media content sample due to the vast amount of Black male actors in lead or prominent recurring roles. Data collection involved a cultivation analysis of first-order and second-order effects that occurred as a result of racial stereotype portrayal. The data were analyzed through the conceptual framework of Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory. This theory refers to the broad reach of television media and how exposure to negative imagery influences perceptions and beliefs of society and often validates and mainstreams long held gender and race-based stereotypes about people of color, specifically Black males (Adams-Bass, Stevenson, & Kotzin, 2014; Bilandzic, 2006; Dutro & Kantor, 2011; Hetsroni, 2012; Jamison & Romer, 2014; Monk-Turner et al., 2010; Oliver, 2003; Parrott & Parrott, 2015; Potter, 2014; Torres, 2015). The research of Mastro and Greenberg (2010), Monk-Turner, et al. (2010), Khanna and Harris (2015), and Parrott and Parrott (2015) established a framework necessary for conducting a media content analysis. The results of this study indicate that historical racial stereotypes/caricatures of African American males were consistently portrayed throughout the entire series. The results also indicate that students exhibiting similar characteristics as characters in the series would likely influence perceptions (negatively) of teachers, ultimately affecting school policies and practices institutionally. Negative teacher perceptions could, and often do, lead to a lack of academic growth and achievement, a disproportionate amount of referrals for discipline and special education, the absence of teacher-student relationships, and an overall detrimental impact on the schooling experience of Black males. This study adds to the body of research on negative racial media portrayals of African American males in the United States and concludes by urging educational leaders to provide necessary professional learning to equip teachers to recognize their biases, how they impact the achievement of Black male students, and to utilize culturally responsive teaching strategies to reach their males of color.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • Brown, Kathleen
  • Williams, Misti
  • Thompson Dorsey, Dana
  • Doctor of Education
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education
Graduation year
  • 2017

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