Thursday, December 4, 2008

In the chapter titled Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination, written by Bell Hooks in her book, Black Looks, Race and Representation, Hooks addresses how black individuals have created an image of whiteness throughout history and how this image has affected African American society.

Hooks writes that this image or, “special knowledge of whiteness” shared by black individuals was developed from close analysis of white individuals throughout history. Hooks writes that this knowledge’s purpose was to “help black folks cope and survive in a white supremacist society”. Hooks writes, “For years, black domestic servants, working in white homes, acting as informants, brought knowledge back to segregated communities – details, facts, observations, and psychoanalytic readings of the white Other”. (165).

Hooks writes that many white individuals become angry when they realize that black individuals have developed this ‘image’ of whiteness. Bell Hooks writes on page 167 in regards to this reaction of white individuals, “Their amazement that black people watch white people with a critical “ethnographic” gaze, is itself an expression of racism”. Hooks writes that this frustration turns into rage because white individuals believe that these ‘looks’ which emphasize the difference between white people and black people threaten “the liberal belief in a universal subjectivity (we are all just people) that they think will make racism disappear” (167). Hooks continues to write that many white individuals have an “emotional investment in the myth of ‘sameness’”, but that the dominance of whiteness is reinforced through their actions and serves as a sign of who they really are and what they really think. (167).

Bell Hooks continues to give some examples of how this representation and knowledge of whiteness has developed in her own life as an African American. She writes about how she had to walk through a white neighborhood to get to her grandmother’s house. She writes, “I remember the fear, being scared to walk to Baba’s, our grandmother’s house, because we would have to pass that terrifying whiteness – those white faces on the porches staring us down with hate. Even when empty or vacant those porches seemed to say danger, you do not belong here, you are not safe” (175). Hooks writes on page 169 that this representation of whiteness “…is not formed in reaction to stereotypes but emerges as a response to the traumatic pain and anguish that remains a consequence of white racist domination, a psychic state that informs and shapes the way black folks “see” whiteness”.

I found this article written by Hooks difficult to summarize and also a little difficult to take in. Although it is troubling that a knowledge and image of whiteness has developed into fear and anguish in the minds and hearts of African Americans, it is also troubling that this knowledge and these images are still prevalent and developing in society today. Hooks’ article is rather harsh, but at the same time I feel as if the reality of her article is what turns my stomach so much. What is even more frustrating is that I cannot find a stable or realistic solution in her article. Although it seems that her solution is to deconstruct the “association of whiteness as terror in the black imagination…” and to “…decolonize our minds and our imaginations,” I do not feel as if the solution could possibly be that simple (178).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Con-Fusing" Exotica

In this article titled, “Con-Fusing” Exotica, Producing India in U.S. Advertising, written by Sanjukta Ghosh, the author addresses the lack of positive representation of individuals from India in advertisements that are shown in the United States. I found this article extremely interesting, however, at times I felt as if the author went a bit overboard in his criticism of U.S. ads and their lack of accurate representations of India and the people in India.

Ghosh is rather harsh in his criticisms of U.S. advertising. Yet, many of Ghosh’s points seem to open my eyes at least to the fact that U.S. advertisements are taking advantage only of what India can do for the U.S. The advertisements are not representing India’s rich culture or diverse individuals. On page 275 of the book in which Ghosh’s article is printed titled Gender, Race, and Class in Media, A Text Reader, written by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, Ghosh writes that “…monetarist policies of the U.S. capitalist economy…has needed South Asian labor but has never been able to come to terms with the presence of this community in the U.S. landscape. This has led to a situation where Indians in America, even if they have been naturalized citizens for generations are treated as sojourners rather than as immigrants, people needed, as Vijay Prashad (2000) has said, for their labor, not their lives”.

The quote above basically states the rest of Ghosh’s article. Ghosh writes and gives examples of how advertisements in the U.S. depict pieces of Indian culture, usually having to do with a style of clothing or the advertisement itself, but never actually depict the richness of Indian culture, or even individuals from India. In clothing ads in which the designer has based their collection off of styles from India usually do not use models from India. Instead, white models are used. Ghosh writes about an advertisement specifically from Vogue magazine which depicted a man from India engaging in some Indian stereotypes such as worship, being a taxi driver, etc. Ghosh stresses that these ads do not depict the culture of India in any way. Rather, the advertisements demean individuals from India and the diverse culture of India.

Because of the lack of representation of individuals from India, the imperial ambitions of the West are revealed. On page 276, Ghosh describes three results of this lack of representation. “First, absence helps reinforce a group’s already-held location in the power structure…the absence of South Asian Americans reinforces their absence in the power structure…Second…absence makes it possible for media empires to achieve a racially cleansed visual environment that reinforces the notion of who is “us” and who is “them,” who is “in” and who is “out””…Third, absence also allows those in power to recode the cultural identities of minority groups such as Indians in a way so that they can be used in a war against other minority groups…at times Indian Americans are constructed as the “usurping hordes” and at other times as a “model minority” (276).

At the end of his article, Ghosh explains his concern for the representation of Indians in media and suggests some various solutions. Ghosh writes that the media need to emphasize the vast differences of Indians in America in terms of gender, class, age, etc. The media also needs to appreciate and stress the importance of the fact that the identities of American Indians are always changing as “the political and economic climate changes”. The media “…need to move away from pictures of a Hindu India to a more complex, complicated vision of what India truly is – a poly-religious, polyglot amalgamation of principalities that only in recent years came to be known as a unified state” (280).

Spanish/Indian Coke Commercial

This commercial is a Spanish advertisement for Coca Cola. In this advertisement, the servant who is a male from India is having what seems to be a stressful day. However, when he grabs and guzzles a coke, his day turns into a Bollywood themed day with dancing and singing and sparkles. The comments underneath this youtube video suggest that the entire commercial is in Spanish with an “Indian” theme. Other than a man who looks like he may be from India who sings and dances to Indian sounding music, there really are no other true representations of India. All of the actors other than the Indian servant are white and there really is nothing shown in the ad that depicts Indian culture. Perhaps this advertisement shows that Spain also represents India in stereotypical ways and is also at fault for the absence of India in advertisements. However, I feel as if many cultures are not always positively or fully represented in advertisements. It is not only individuals from India whose rich cultures are not represented in advertisements.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Native Americans, Chicanos, and Asian Americans: Social Movements and the Media

In Stephanie Greco Larson’s chapter titled Native Americans, Chicanos, and Asian Americans: Social Movements and the Media, in her book, Media & Minorities, the Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, Larson writes about a few different social movements of those three racial minority groups and how the mass media covered those movements.

First, Larson writes about American Indian movements and how the media covered their stories. She writes about the American Indians claiming Alcatraz in 1969, the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the confrontation at Wounded Knee. Larson writes that although each movement was covered by the media, it was not always covered positively. Many of the American Indian social movements were organized and designed in a way that promoted the use of media and made it easier for the media to cover each situation. This helped to promote positive coverage through the beginning stages of the movements. However, the mass media portrayed the American Indians in many stereotypical situations. The American Indians were able to use these stereotypes to bring attention and news media to their social movements, but often times the media portrayed the protesters as negative or “violent” which obviously showered negative views about the American Indians movements and intentions.

Second, Larson writes about Chicano social movements and the coverage of these movements by the media. Larson writes about coverage on the Organization of Farm Workers, the Crusade for Justice, and the Chicano Youth Movement. What was found was that there was little coverage by the media of each movement. Larson discusses the Poor People’s Campaign, organized by Martin Luther King Jr. This campaign contained mostly Mexican people. However, coverage in the national newsmagazines “…characterized it (the Poor People’s Campaign) as a “black even”” (187). Chicanos were depicted as negative and in conflict with black individuals involved in the campaign. Larson writes that in much of the coverage of Chicano social movements, “…disruptive and violent stereotypes were common” (189).

Finally, Larson writes about the coverage of the Asian American Movement. Larson discusses the Third World Strike at San Francisco State University in 1968-69. Again, there was little press coverage of this movement. Larson writes that this could be due to the lack of organization on the movement’s part. On page 190, Larson writes, “The lack of a national leader, the concentration of supporters in a few geographic areas, and the lack of a specific plan of action would help explain a lack of visibility” (190). What was more effective was the alternative press created by the Asian American social movement.

Larson writes in her conclusion that there was little positive news coverage of each of the social movements within American Indians, Chicanos and Asian Americans. Larson writes that much of the nature of the coverage was based on ‘violent’ acts and that “The most favorable coverage was given to the least radical events and individuals” (192). Larson writes that best positive and most effective coverage came from a parallel press that each movement had.

HACER – Hispanic American Center for Economic Research


“The Hispanic American Center for Economic Research is a 501(c)(3) organization that is supported entirely through gifts from individuals, philanthropic foundations, and corporations. Its goal is to promote the study of issues pertinent to the countries of Hispanic America as well as Hispanic Americans living in the United States, especially as they relate to the values of personal and economic liberty, limited government under the rule of law, and individual responsibility. HACER does this by both generating and supporting independent research.” - HACER

I decided to look up news stories regarding Hispanic Americans and I came across this online news source. HACER says that they recognize the growing population of Hispanics in the U.S. and how they are largely and typically underrepresented in news media and public debates. HACER was established in 1996 and states that one of its purposes is to look at problems in other countries (specifically South American countries) and bring about awareness and discussion across national borders:

“While there are a number of important Latin American research institutes sympathetic to the cause of liberty and free markets, none has traditionally taken a "regional" - as opposed to a country-specific - perspective to these issues. HACER was founded to fill this vacuum by studying common problems faced in different countries, thereby creating important dialogue across national borders about best practices, ongoing challenges, and other lessons learned” - HACER

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Asian American Representation in News Media

In chapter eleven titled Asian American Mass Publics in the News, in the book, Media & Minorities, The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, written by Stephanie Greco Larson, the representation of Asian Americans in news is addressed. Basically, very little positive representations of Asian Americans can be seen in news history. Articles about Asian Americans are less frequent than articles regarding Hispanics or African Americans.

When Asian Americans are represented in news media, they are often times represented negatively. Larson writes that, “Asian Americans often appear in crime news as suspects or gang members…Some news representations of Asian Americans demonize them…Media coverage also trivializes Asian Americans” (132, 134). I find it particularly interesting when Larson writes on page 134, “The words “Asian” and “Asian American” are often used interchangeably in news stories”. Larson continues to explain how Korean Americans are often referred to as Koreans, and I believe you can witness the same trend with Chinese Americans. Larson writes that the lack of including “American” supports the notion of “Asian Americans as “not American”” (134).

Another stereotype of Asian Americans that Larson addresses is the “model minority stereotype” (135). Larson writes on page 135, “The model minority is hardworking and intelligent, but also docile and deferential. Asian Americans, according to this stereotype are successful, patriotic, and law abiding and have stable families”. Although this may not be seen entirely as a negative stereotype, Larson writes on page 135 that “the stereotype denies the discrimination and hardships experienced by this group by focusing on individual successes in the areas of employment and education”. Larson writes that it is difficult for individuals who may not exactly fit the “model” because they may not live up to the assumptions that all Asian Americans are high achievers.

Towards the end of the article, Larson writes about “The Asian American Parallel Press” (139). The Asian American press has had a long difficult history. It has been monitored by the government, requiring the news to be translated into English. Despite its difficulties, Larson writes on page 141, “...the Asian ethnic press supports the various Asian cultures and helps to maintain their respective communities, even in times of censorship and repression”.

Wakamatsu - Model Minority in Major League Baseball History

This article is about Don Wakamatsu, the first Asian American manager in major league history, hired by the Seattle Mariners. Although the article includes a statement by the Marines general manager commending Wakamatsu, there is nothing about Wakamatsu’s past, ethnic or social in terms of achievements, etc, and there is no statement from Wakamatsu himself. The article is, however, quick to point out that Wakamatsu was not the “fan favorite”. Even so, the article really says nothing negative about Wakamatsu. However, it is a very brief article for something that seems as major as the first Asian American manager in major league baseball history.

This article on ESPN’s website gives a more extensive cover of Wakamatsu. It especially covers his past and Japanese culture, including a brief history of his parents and how they grew up living in interment camps. Much of the brief history towards the beginning of the article is centered on the hard working characteristics of Wakamatsu’s close relatives. I suppose this was to support the fact that ESPN and others believe that Wakamatsu is extremely hard working and successful and will be able to hopefully bring some of his own personal success onto the Mariners who apparently have not been too successful in the past.

This final article is from the Seattle Times. Although this article again states the misfortunes of the Mariners in terms of major league baseball success, the author also states the hope that Wakamatsu is bringing to the team because he himself is respectable and successful. However, unlike the other two articles, this article mentions nothing about Wakamatsu’s ethnic past or even that he is Asian American or the first Asian American manager in major league baseball history. I find this extremely interesting especially because Wakamatsu is the manager for Seattle’s baseball team, the Mariners, and this is a Seattle newspaper. You would think they would have more pride in someone who is managing their baseball team.

In all, I feel as if the ESPN article did an exceptional job in describing Wakamatsu and especially his past. Although it was mainly about the success of his past and how that has contributed to his success as an individual, thus possibly supporting the “model minority stereotype” that Larson discusses, I do feel as if this article from ESPN shows a great deal more respect for Wakamatsu than the Seattle Time’s article does.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

O.J. Simpson - The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Image from:

In the book, Gender Race and Class in Media, a Text Reader, written by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, the chapter titled, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Marketing and the O.J. Simpson Trial, written by George Lipsitz really does not really mention race as a factor in the popularity of marketing the O.J. Simpson Trial. Even so, the O.J. Simpson Trial became an extremely popular story and marketing product within many different modes of media. Lipsitz writes that the trial’s story gained popularity and sold well because the O.J. trial contained the necessary elements that have to do with the main themes that “…organize television discourse in the United States” (179). Those main themes are, “…the primacy of products as the center of social life, the stimulation and management of appetites, and alarm about the family in jeopardy” (179). LIpsitz writes on page 179 that “A story linking any of these two categories will always make the news…the O.J. Simpson trial…contained all these elements necessary to televisual representation: it was a story about products, appetites, and the family in jeopardy”.

O.J’s role as an athlete, actor, and celebrity also enhanced the marketing of his trial. Lipsitz writes that O.J.”s trial could have come out of several murder television shows, celebrity shows, and shows about the courtroom. Lipsitz writes that the trial was able to “…bring together the various apparatuses of advertising, publicity, spectator sports, motion pictures, television, and marketing into a unified totality generating money0making opportunities at every turn” (178). Not only was the main character in the trial, O.J., used for marketing purposes, but individuals directly and indirectly involved in the trial were also used. One example includes defense witness Brian “Kato” Kaelin receiving his own talk show from a Los Angeles radio station. Jurors wrote books about the trial and the judge was even offered a $1 million role in a television program (178).

The only part in which Lipsitz refers to the African American community and the trial’s effects on that community is when Lipsitz writes about the trial’s popularity within televised news networks. Among CNN, Court TV, Entertainment Tonight, and other shows, BET also witnessed a rise in viewers throughout O.J.’s trial. This was largely due to the fact that BET conducted a live interview with O.J. Simpson. However, Lipsitz suggests that Simpson’s involvement in “diverse areas of entertainment gave him the kind of visibility that television loves to recycle and repackage” (177). Thus, the O.J. Simpson trial was able to be marketed across many different areas of media; cable and broadcast television networks, newspapers, magazines, literature, videotapes, etc.

In Bias Test, Shades of Gray- New York Times

Although this article has little to do with representations of racial-minorities in the news, I found it quite interesting. In an article written on November 17, 2008 in the New York Times titled In Bias Test, Shades of Gray, computer testing intended to reveal unconscious racial bias was addressed. In this article, the author writes that tests to uncover unconscious biases towards African American people are not as legitimate as they once were thought to be. The author writes, “The test is widely used in research, and some critics acknowledge that it’s a useful tool for detecting unconscious attitudes and studying cognitive processes. But they say it’s misleading for researchers to give individuals ratings like “slight,” “moderate” or “strong” — and advice on dealing with their bias — when there isn’t even that much consistency in the same person’s scores if the test is taken again” (NYTimes). A psychologist at Texas A&M interviewed for the article suggested that the test itself is biased and too controlled by a small amount of people. The psychologist basically wrote off the test as inaccurate and useless.

I find it interesting that one of the main stories on the New York Time’s website is an article writing off the validity of a computerized bias test. I felt that the article was telling me that bias tests are illegitimate and should not be considered factual. Although I don’t necessarily feel as if the article was completely supporting the idea that most Americans are not racially biased, I felt that because the article was trying almost to disprove the validity of the test, the article was also saying that most Americans today are not racially biased. I’m not completely sure that I agree with this article, however, I am also not sure that I agree that bias tests are entirely valid.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Media Coverage of Candidates and Politicianshttp

In the chapter, Media Coverage of Candidates and Politicians: An Introduction, in the book titled Media & Minorities, The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment written by Stephanie Greco Larson, the author discusses how candidates and politicians are represented in media. The author writes that candidates and politicians accuse the media of falsely representing their messages in a way that “hinder their (the politicians and candidates) ability to communicate with the people” (195). However, the press claims that “politicians and candidates manipulate and use them for ends inconsistent with the purpose of a free and open press” (195). It seems to me, and I believe Larson would agree with me that neither the politicians nor the press can be ‘successful’ without the other.

The author continues to write about how media covers politicians and their campaigns. Larson writes on page 196, “Media coverage of campaigns focuses on style over substance, strategy over ideals and people over processes…Candidates and politicians become characters in a giant political play or sitcom.” With the recent election and media coverage of campaigning from Obama and McCain, it is obvious that the media does portray candidates and politicians as dramatic characters in a play. I feel as if the candidates switch characters many times, one as the protagonist and the other as the antagonist and so on.

The author continues to write about the amount and type of coverage a candidate might receive from the media. I found it particularly interesting when Larson wrote on page 197, “Those (candidates) who are authentically outsiders receive less and worse coverage than insiders. Sometimes candidates who are not ideologically extreme and who have political experience, resources, and connections that make them insiders successfully campaign as “outsiders.”…the media find outsider rhetoric appealing as long as those using it are not really outsiders.”

Media coverage of Candidates is extremely important because it brings candidates popularity, or unpopularity among the public who controls the candidate’s probability of being elected or re-elected. The author writes that even sometimes simple name recognition within the public eye is important enough. Larson writes on page 198, “…party identification is no longer as important…people want to know more than the party label before they vote for a candidate. Sometimes just recognizing a candidate’s name is enough.” Media can also “influence or destroy” the popularity of a candidate with the “coverage’s tone and treatment” (198). Larson uses the example of the agenda setting role. She writes that “agenda setting tells voters “not what to think, but what to think about”” (199). Larson writes that “if one candidate’s issue agenda is ignored, and another’s gets extensive coverage, then the media’s agenda-setting role will help the first candidate” (199). I’m not completely sure that I agree with that statement. I feel the more I know about one candidate, the more I may agree with that candidate. If I know little about another candidate, and am too lazy to research myself, I may vote for the candidate that receives more coverage because the media made it convenient for me to understand that particular candidate.

In all, this chapter was basically an introduction about media coverage on politicians and candidates. Although coverage of candidates and politicians is not always accurate or truthful to the politics, those who are receiving coverage from the media need that coverage in order to gain popularity within the public and have a chance at winning an election. Media also can not survive without politics. They need the stories and the slander, the excitement in order to create interesting coverage for the public eye.

I chose this media representation because it shows how the press can been seen as ‘biased’. In this clip, the press is criticized for giving Barack Obama a ‘free ride’ in terms of press coverage. The press is accused of creating a more positive image for Obama than Hillary, President Bush, and other candidates. I feel as if this clip is extremely self-explanatory and is interesting in terms of describing how the press works and how the press can even be criticized by other news sources.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Race/Ethnicity in Media

In this article written by Minu Lee and Chong Heup Cho, entitled, Women Watching Together, An Ethnographic Study of Korean Soap Opera Fans in the United States, the authors interviewed and analyzed a few Korean females regarding their soap opera watching habits.

The authors state that this particular chapter “…concerns a question of “why is it that some Korean housewives in America prefer Korean soap operas to American ones?”” (482). However, the part of this chapter that was put into the second edition of Gender, Race, and Class in Media, a Text-Reader written by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, I felt addressed more specifically cultural norms within Korean families, especially Korean husbands and wives, and how they are different from traditional American values. Korean soap operas were only used to show an example of Korean marriages and how they may differ from American marriages.

The authors interviewed a few women regarding soap operas and why and how they view Korean soap operas. Most of the women expressed that they had to either watch soap operas alone, with female friends, or not at all because their husbands thought the soap operas to be so silly and trivial. Many of the interviewees said that they had to continue to watch the soap operas even if it meant being sneaky about it because it was their only way to relieve stress. Korean husbands, however, thought that the viewing of these soap operas was stupid because the operas were trashy. The authors write on page 483,

“The common strategy for the husband to discourage his wife from watching soap operas is to compare her viewing choice to that of a housemaid. The usual comment…makes the women feel shame as they violate the natural law of the Confucian notion of family which specifies the role and the status of each family member based on gender and age…the woman must not only respect her husband and elders but also must not damage the family image and honor”.

In this, the book addresses the difficulties that Korean women have with watching something that may distort their image in the household according to their husbands. This really has nothing to do with whether or not they prefer American or Korean soap operas. The chapter continues to discuss how Korean women form a “video club”, which consists of female friends to watch soap operas with. The women interviewed express that this “club” not only allows for an appropriate “private” time to watch soap operas, but more importantly, the club also gives the women a chance to gossip and talk about their issues and problems with their husbands. It gives the women a bit of ‘control’ over their own lives of which are often times controlled by the higher ‘social power’, the husband. So, as the book notes on page 485, “…this politics of family between husband’s power and wife’s resistance has little to do with the program itself. This struggle for meanings and pleasures already exists even before women watch the program”.

It is not until the very end of this section that the author finally addresses Korean versus American soap operas. When Korean women were interviewed regarding whether they preferred American soap operas over Korean soap operas or Korean over American, they said that they enjoyed American soap operas, but preferred Korean soap operas. The interviewees said that the ideas in American soap operas are ‘American,’ not Korean, and they would rather watch a program that addresses their own cultural values, norms and ideas.

Media Representations of Race/Ethnicity

I chose these two media representations of ethnicity/race because they're so blatant. Both of these representations are from a comedy show on FX called, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This television show is extremely bizarre and takes stereotypes to the limit. In the first clip, a part of the show is displayed in which the main characters are doing ‘community service’ by helping to coach a youth basketball team. One of the characters “chooses” his team and picks all of the African American kids to be on his team. When the other main characters enter, they are upset and tell him that he can’t choose all of the African American kids. The rest of the scene ends by being extremely uncomfortable and the characters can’t say exactly what they want to say for fear of sounding racist. The second clip is another clip supporting racial stereotypes from an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Both of these representations are extremely harsh and for some reason, many of us find laughter and comedy in these representations of different races. Does comedy legitimize or give the “okay” to supporting stereotypes?