The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America

Paperback | December 1, 2001

byRobert M. Entman

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Living in a segregated society, white Americans learn about African Americans not through personal relationships but through the images the media show them. The Black Image in the White Mind offers the most comprehensive look at the intricate racial patterns in the mass media and how they shape the ambivalent attitudes of Whites toward Blacks.

Using the media, and especially television, as barometers of race relations, Robert Entman and Andrew Rojecki explore but then go beyond the treatment of African Americans on network and local news to incisively uncover the messages sent about race by the entertainment industry-from prime-time dramas and sitcoms to commercials and Hollywood movies. While the authors find very little in the media that intentionally promotes racism, they find even less that advances racial harmony. They reveal instead a subtle pattern of images that, while making room for Blacks, implies a racial hierarchy with Whites on top and promotes a sense of difference and conflict. Commercials, for example, feature plenty of Black characters. But unlike Whites, they rarely speak to or touch one another. In prime time, the few Blacks who escape sitcom buffoonery rarely enjoy informal, friendly contact with White colleagues—perhaps reinforcing social distance in real life.

Entman and Rojecki interweave such astute observations with candid interviews of White Americans that make clear how these images of racial difference insinuate themselves into Whites' thinking.

Despite its disturbing readings of television and film, the book's cogent analyses and proposed policy guidelines offer hope that America's powerful mediated racial separation can be successfully bridged.


"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."—Publishers Weekly

"Drawing on their own research and that of a wide array of other scholars, Entman and Rojecki present a great deal of provocative data showing a general tendency to devalue blacks or force them into stock categories."—Ben Yagoda, New Leader

Winner of the Frank Luther Mott Award for best book in Mass Communication and the Robert E. Lane Award for best book in political psychology.

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From the Publisher

Living in a segregated society, white Americans learn about African Americans not through personal relationships but through the images the media show them. The Black Image in the White Mind offers the most comprehensive look at the intricate racial patterns in the mass media and how they shape the ambivalent attitudes of Whites toward...

From the Jacket

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 Se...

Robert M. Entman is a professor in and head of the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University.Andrew Rojecki is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Format:PaperbackPublished:December 1, 2001Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226210766

ISBN - 13:9780226210766

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Tables and Figures
Preface to the Paperback Edition
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. The Racial Chameleon
2. White Racial Attitudes in the Heartland
3. Culture, Media, and the White Mind: The Character of Their Content
4. The Meaning of Blackness in Network News
5. Violence, Stereotypes, and African Americans in the News
6. Benign Neglect in the Poverty of the News
7. Affirming Discord
8. Black Power
9. Prime-Time Television: White and Whiter
10. Advertising Whiteness
11. Race at the Movies
12. Reflecting on the End of Racial Representation
Appendix: Data Tables
Notes
References
Index