Abstractly Speaking

18 12 2009

Harvey, H (2005). Becoming Entrepreneurs: Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender at the Black Beauty Salon. Gender & Society, 19(6), 789-808.


The intersections of race, class, and gender are explored through examining the experiences of African American female entrepreneurs from categorically defined working class backgrounds.   The study targets black female beauty shop owners and researches how race, class, and gender oppressions intersect to shape their decisions, processes, and successes in entrepreneurship.  The research follows the theoretic framework that race, gender, and class oppressions intersect and compound creating a unique experience of oppression that permeates all sectors of life.  The author seeks to fill a gap in research on minority entrepreneurship through representing common practices and structures in black women’s entrepreneurial experience rather than more widely covered causal and socio economic contextualizations of minority entrepreneurship.  Research findings demonstrate two primary areas where race, gender, class intersectionality impact working-class African American black beauty shop owners:  the decision and route to becoming an entrepreneur, and management and personnel relationships.

11 black female beauty shop owners were personally interviewed gathering information on demographics, business practices, and their experiences as entrepreneurs.  Research from the study showed that entrepreneurship proved to be a viable option for working class black women providing a level of economic stability and allowing business owners flexibility in supporting their children and families.  Further, because black female business owners faced a more difficult time securing business loans, they found nontraditional routes to gaining start up capital for their businesses.  Also, the sample of black female business owners were confident in the stability in the black hair industry  because of their knowledge of it as an untapped market with a devoted clientele of black women who value beauty, and are devoted to making a sizable financial contribution to attain it.

Many of the business owners adopted a “helping ideology” and took on a mentorship role to other black women through hiring practices, professional development, and general encouragement.  This, business owners proclaimed, was a deliberate effort to support other black women in gaining career and economic access and stability.  This is evidence of a racial, gendered, and class solidarity.  This practice proved effective, as a number of the entrepreneurs interviewed had been mentored by other women participating in the study before they become business owners.   However their “helping ideology” was not without its difficulties and contradictions.  Some business owners mentioned a lack of professionalism, jealousy, and distrust that marked relationships with their stylists.  These complex relationships reference common sentiments of intersecting race, gender, and class stereotypes about black women.

This research in this study conveys that race, gender, and class intersections largely shape the development and social practices of minority entrepreneurship.  This body of research fills a gap of experiential analyses of minority entrepreneurship, particularly of black women.   It is suggested that further research be conducted on the financial achievement of business owners examining if their level of entrepreneurship translates into generational transcendence of class status.  The author also suggests that emotional and body labor, a substantial portion of the work of black female beauty shop owners, be explored to examine the ways cross racial emotional and body labor convey race and class intersectionality.  Lastly, the author suggest expanding the scope of this study to include a larger sample of subjects, additional entrepreneurial ventures, and the variance of social and economic  factors  to ascertain an expanded and more generalized impact of race, gender, and class intersections on the entrepreneurial experience s of black women.

Sullivan, R. (2003). Rap and Race: It’s Got a Nice Beat, But What About the Message? Journal of Black Studies, 33(5), 605-622.


Adolescent attitudes and interpretations of rap music are examined through the lens of race through a survey of Black, White, and Latino youth in this article.  As the popularity of the black art form of rap music has increased and its mainstream appeal established, a growing amount of criticism and discourse has emerged.  Rap music’s content and effects are theoretically evaluated within the theoretical framework of black studies and music and pop culture theory.  This study speaks directly to youth to ascertain racial differences in their knowledge and opinions of rap music and the ways and extent to which rap music affects them.  51 Black, White, and Latino adolescent boys and girls from a Midwestern city were surveyed and asked questions about their preferences, views, and interpretations of rap music.  The study found limited racial variance in the popularity of rap music among the adolescents.  It did however find a stronger allegiance to rap music by black youth and a stronger affinity for its messages.

Based on previous studies and race theory the author developed four major hypotheses for his research:  that black respondents would have more of an preference for rap music than whites, that respondents would agree with statements that demonstrate that they believe the music is an accurate reflection of society and integrated into their lives, that black respondents would have a wider taste of hip hop music, and that more white respondents would agree that rap music shapes their perceptions of racism and black culture.  The survey found that rap music proved to be extremely popular among all respondents, with the highest rate of popularity among Blacks, but only by a small margin.  Black respondents agreed most with statements signifying that rap reflects society and is integrated into their lives, but again by a small margin, and all respondents only moderately agreed with these statements.  Disproving the author’s hypothesis, most respondents disagreed that hip hop culture taught them about race and racism.  Most striking was the significant number of black respondents that agreed that rap music was a reflection of their life experiences.

The findings from this study lead to the conclusion that the racial gap among rap audiences is narrowing.  This reveals rap’s role as a societal informant of the black experience.   This study found a minimal rate of variance in the preference for rap music.  However, variances in the interpretation of the content of rap music may suggest that black and white adolescents are experiencing rap music differently.  It is significant that Africa American youth more commonly find that the often controversial and political messages and content of rap music affirm their life experiences. Therein lies an opportunity for further inquiry into music effects and consumption of black youth and the intersections of race and hip hop culture.  The author also suggests research incorporating factors such as gender, class, and age to expand the study of rap music research.  It is also proposed that Latino opinions of rap music be explored as well as an examination of the cross cultural effects of rap personification of black culture to white audiences.

Brandt, M., Reyna, C., Viki, G.T.(2009).  Blame It on Hip-Hop: Anti-Rap Attitudes as a Proxy for Prejudice. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 12(3), 361-380.


This body of research examines negative attitudes about rap music and their relationship to and legitimization of discriminatory beliefs and practices against Blacks.  In recognition of the various ways rap music has been denounced by critics and social scientists as glorifying violence, being misogynistic, and contributing to negative perceptions of Blacks, this study was conducted to investigate the ways negative perceptions of rap by non-Blacks contribute to stereotypes about the deservingness of Blacks of their low status in society and negative life outcomes.

Three studies were conducted surveying subjects on their feelings about rap music, prevalent stereotypes, opposition to equality, and discriminatory policies that affect Blacks.  One sample was taken in the United States and two samples were from other countries.  All three samples showed a correlation between anti-rap sentiments and pervasive stereotypes blaming Blacks for their socioeconomic conditions.  Anti-rap attitudes were also associated with discriminatory personal and political behaviors.  American samples found that stereotypes holding Blacks responsible for their plight in society mediated anti-rap attitudes and discriminatory behaviors.  However, the sample from the UK did not posses this connection, suggesting that anti-rap attitudes endorsing beliefs that Blacks are undeserving of social benefit may be specific to the United States.

The results of the research conducted convey that negative stereotypes about rap have powerful repercussions through their associating with responsibility stereotypes and discriminatory practices again Blacks in America and abroad.  These findings raise larger questions about whether the popularization of negative opinions about rap contributes to beliefs about the legitimacy of oppressive beliefs, policies, and institutions and therefore adversely affect public support of assistance.  It is suggested that these issues be further explored by adding the variable of exposure to rap music to the study,  as well as the examining of attitudes about other forms of black music such as jazz and reggae .  In addition, it is proposed that the discussion broaden to include methods of positively exploiting rap and hip hop culture to benefit the black community and greater perceptions of it.

Race and Media: In Review

18 12 2009

Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Representations in Media

Ndelea Simama

The New School

Race and representation has become an increasingly significant issue in todays mediated society.  With the advent of this country’s first black president, to the racial profiling of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, race and representation remains one of the most polarizing issues in America.  Representations of race, gender, and ethnicity are found across media and have incited a significant amount of discourse.   Representation looks at the process, interpretation, and reception of constructions of reality, in this case through media.  A portion of the growing body of literature and media examining past and present representations of race, gender, and ethnicity in media will be reviewed in this paper.  A great portion of this literature looks at how representations of race, gender and ethnicity serve to perpetuate racist and sexist ideologies and support dominant white supremacist and patriarchal power structures.  The reviewed texts work to unveil how popular representations of race effect individuals and society.  Most of the theorists work through the ideological framework that racism and gender oppression systematically and structurally exist in America and have resulted in the various inequalities and injustices in society.  In addition, literature and media on this topic look at how race, gender, or ethnicity intersect to create complex representations and support multifaceted structures of oppression.  Class is also a theme visited within this body of literature that prompts inquiry and frequently intersects with race, gender, and ethnicity.

The majority of the literature and media found on this topic focus on representations of race within the media of movies, television, and music, most specifically hip hop music.  One of the major conclusions drawn from this body of literature and media is that historically oppressive images of Blacks in America continue to be recycled and represented through media.  The historical images of blacks most commonly found include images of blacks in roles of subservience, blacks in the role of the entertainer or “clown,” blacks in the role of the criminal or con artist, and portrayals of blacks as lazy and shiftless (Gray, 2004, p. 20).   In addition to these being reinforcements of commonly held racist beliefs about blacks in society, they mark the earliest representations of blacks in television that continue to be conveyed in television, film, radio, print journalism and many other media of popular culture.  These early representations are starkly present in shows in films and television from the early to mid 1950s such as Amos ‘n’ Andy, Bealah, and, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Gray, 2004, p. 23).  Herman Gray clearly illustrates this point in his article The Politics of Representation in Network Television when he argues that:

our contemporary moment continues to be shaped discursively by representations of race and ethnicity that began in the formative years of television…this formative period is a defining discursive and aesthetic moment  that enabled and shaped the adjustments that black representations continue to make.  It remains the moment against which all other television representations of blackness have reacted (Gray, 2004, p. 39).

The works examined in this review look at twentieth century media representations, most of which examine representation from 1950s to the present.  The majority of the texts use content analysis as a methodological tool.  One popular conclusion that is drawn from the analysis conducted in the reviewed texts is that race, gender, and ethnicity representations contribute to the shaping of our ideologies and work to maintain the white supremacist patriarchal status quo.  Although these conclusions may be valid,, the body of work in field of race, gender, and ethnicity representations lacks inquiry into new forms of television programming and new media such as reality television, social networking, video games, and new modes of advertising.  In addition, there is an absence of literature that identifies and promotes positive representations of race, gender, and ethnicity in media.   Further, as is the case with a great deal of theoretical texts, there is little attention devoted to creating solutions for creating alternative representations of race, gender, and ethnicity, and tools for organizing to dismantle oppressive power structures.  The reviewed texts are grouped into four categories that address the content, gaps in the field, and theoretical approach presented by the authors and producers.  These groups include the following: the history of race representation in media, cultural studies, the intersectionality of race, gender, and ethnicity in media, and representations in new media and new trends in television programming.

The History of Race Representation in Media

A select few of the texts look comprehensively at the lingering effects of historical race and gender representations in media.  Two of these texts, Ethnic Notions, released in 1987 and Color Adjustment, released in 1991 are documentaries by black film maker Marlon Riggs.  The Emmy Award winning Ethnic Notions serves as the major comprehensive historical work on race representation in media.  Its text is referenced in many subsequent works, some of which will be reviewed in this paper.  In Ethnic Notions Riggs takes his audience through over a century of explorations of racially exploitive and demeaning images of blacks in advertising, art, television, music, and film.  Riggs infers that negative representations of blacks currently and historically have reinforced the broad range of racial oppression that has occurred within the United States.  Ethnic Notions gives a thorough and striking presentation of the United States history of media representations of race.  Color Adjustment, released three years later, is a continuation of the examination of race representation.  It looks primarily at representations in network television.  Riggs examines a 40 year evolution, from the 1950s to the 1990s, of race representation of in American television programming exploring shows such as Amos ‘n’ Andy to The Cosby Show.   One of the major conclusions presented through this investigation is that early race representations on network television were designed to fit within the ideological structure of the “American Dream” and the “American family” in order to carefully preserve television’s primary function of merchandizing (Riggs, 1992).  This resulted in familiar stereotypical depictions of blacks as subservient, entertaining, and brainless.  These depictions were constructed to be both palatable to white America and not disruptive to the status quo.  The images were also an attempt to neutralize racial tensions that were brewing during the civil rights and black power movement of the sixties and seventies (Riggs, 1992).

Cultural  Studies

Cultural theorist Stuart Hall presents an ideological discourse on race and representation in his 1991 article The White of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media. Stuart begins by conveying that a prudent examination of race and media necessitates the use of an ideological framework.  This, he states, is because media is part of the apparatus that produces and transforms ideologies.  “The media construct for us a definition of what race is, what meaning the imagery of race carries, and ‘what the problem of race’ is understood to be.  They help to classify the world in terms of the categories of race…The media are not only a powerful source of about ideas on race.  They are also one place where these ideas are articulated, worked on, transformed, and elaborated” (Hall, 1995, p. 90). Media perpetuation of the ideology of racism illustrates this.  Hall’s inquiry of race representation in media is conducted through content analysis.  Like many of the other theorist reviewed, Hall chronicles the presence and reoccurrence of popular stereotypical images of blacks historically represented in the media.  In addition, Hall emphasizes how these images reflect a duality “ the double vision of the white eye through which they are seen”(Hall, 1995, p. 90), reflecting both a contrast and congruence to its white counterpoint.  Hall also points on that these historical images exist, but in muted and restructured forms in contemporary media. “There is for example the familiar slave figure: dependable, loving, in a simple, childlike sort of way- the devoted mammy with the rolling eyes, or the faithful field hand or retainer, attached and devoted to ‘his’ master…A another baseline is that of the ‘native’…A third variant is that of the ‘clown’ or entertainer.  This captures the “innate” humor as well as the physical grace-of the licensed entertainer-putting on a show for The Other” (Hall, 1995, p. 93). These images, constructed and reflected through the lens of whiteness, still exist and can be found in contemporary television characters, advertisements, and in films.  Hall defines the different types of racism that is perpetuated through various representations of race in media.  “Overt racism” Hall claims is when racist sentiments that are explicitly expressed.  “Inferential racism” is expressed when racist representations are placed within the context of plots or the framing of a story.  (Hall, 1995, p. 93). These are two valuable distinctions that can be applied to future study of race and representation in media.  Hall’s article follows the similar premise, of the persistence of similar stereotypical race representations in media, as much of the other literature reviewed.  What Hall’s article adds to this collection of literature is a cultural studies ideological context to examine the representations of race and racism in media.

The Black Image in the White Mind: Media an Race in America: is a contemporary work by Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki that looks at race representations and media influence on American society.  Entman and Rojecki use a cultural studies and social science framework to shape their discourse and promote change in media production.   Following the trend in the field, Entman and Rojecki use content analysis to analyze media.  Interview data, is used as well, adding variance to their methodology and a sociological analysis to their study.  Entman and Rojecki work to expand the study of race and media by looking at the intersections of race and media, redefining representation of blacks in media, and by looking beyond commentary on black representations in the news to delve into deeper issues of marginalization, absence, hierarchy, positioning.  There is a major emphasis on political representations of race in media, specifically of how issues such of affirmative action shape political discourse on media, specifically during the 2000 presidential election (Entman & Rojecki, 2000, p. 7).  In addition, Entman and Rojecki identify the issue of segregation in primetime television as well as the subordination of black male character to white male characters in film as locations of discourse on media representations of race and reinforcements of racism.  The Black Image in the White Mind: Media an Race in America is a comprehensive look at the ideology of “new racism.” New racism can be described as contemporary racism that exists post Civil Rights within an accepted framework of political correctness and liberalism, subtly couched within discussions of equality and race transcendence.   “What is most fascinating about the present situation is that media, producers have, like the great majority of Americans, have rejected the most blatant forms of racial differentiation to a point some critics have derisively describes at political correctness. Yet racial differentiation lives on nonetheless.” (Entman & Rojecki, 2000, p. 3).  This text brings the discourse on race and media into the twenty-first century where racism is more implicit and new formations race representation operate within the evolving face of racial ambivalence and white supremacy.  This text includes two approaches that gaps within to the field race representation in media.  One approach is the use of interview data and the construction of a new model of analysis to ascertain White attitudes towards toward Blacks and how they have been influenced by media representations.  The next approach is the inclusion of a discussion on the progress made within representations of Blacks in film and a discussion on solutions for transcending the unjust representations of race in media and society.

The Intersectionality of Race, Gender, and Ethnicity

In the article Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance and in bell hooks on Video: Cultural Criticisms, bell hooks looks at the intersections of race, gender, and class in popular culture in media.  hooks uses content analysis to evaluate how race, gender, and class representations influence how the ideological structure of racism is shaped.  hooks looks at how representations of black sexuality are exploited and black culture is consumed as a means of transgressing whiteness and constructing  identities outside of white patriarchy  as The Other.  “Cultural taboos around sexuality and desire are transgressed and made explicit as the media bombards folks with a message of difference no longer based on the white supremacist assumption that ‘blonds have more fun.’  The ‘real fun’ is to be had by bringing to the surface all those ‘nasty’ unconscious fantasies and longings about contact with the Other embedded in the secret (not so secret) deep structure of white supremacy.” (hooks, 2006, p. 366). In bell hooks on video: Cultural Criticisms hooks explains how she uses the framework of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy dominant ideology as a lens with which to examine media and society.  This, she claims, moves past the limiting discussion of racism and looks at how these various structures intersect and shape the world we live in (M.E.F., 1997).  hooks’ work adds an invaluable perspectives on media representations race, gender, and ethnicity that at allows for a comprehensive assessment of the ways in which they maintain the status quo.

Byrun Hunts’s documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes takes a looks at masculinity, gender, and sexuality within hip hop culture.  The documentary is a bold examination of hip hop culture that promotes media literacy by creating a discourse about race and gender representations in hip hop.  “Another explanation of the commercial palatability of conventional hip-hop is that it plays into stereotypes of race, gender and class. White consumers—who make up the majority of commercial hip-hop consumers—buy into stereotypes of blackness based on violence and caricature, while people of color also consume images of black manhood commodified as one-dimensional and devoid of social responsibility.” (Fischer, 2004).  The documentary serves as another work in the field that conducts a critique of the intersections of race and gender and finds commonly held stereotypes reflected through media of hip hop culture. Its text contributes to the field by looking at the contemporary black multimedia art form hip hop.  The majority of the discourse of the film takes place within the Black community and provides a look at how white supremacy operates within the context of black produced media.

Representations in New Media and New Trends in Television Programming

RACE/GENDER/MEDIA: Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content, and Producers edited by Rebecca Ann Lind Way and published in 2004 presents one of the most up to date looks a race, gender, ethnicity representation in the media.  The collection of articles examines race and gender in relationship to media effects, content, and encourages media literacy through a discursive survey of diverse media. This book is particularly relevant because it looks at race, gender, and ethnicity representations in new media such as social networking and video games and it expands beyond representations of blacks and addresses representations of other ethnicities such as Native Americans and Asian Americans.

The article Black.White. and a Survivor of the Real World : Constructions of Race on Reality TV by  Katrina E. Bell-Jordan is one of the few work that looks at race and gender representations on reality television.  As the landscape of network television changes this article contributes much needed discourse on new modes of television programming.  Jordan looks at how race is constructed on reality TV and concludes that blacks are marginalized, and negatively stereotyped, and excluded.

The common conclusion drawn by all of the texts reviewed is that race, gender, and ethnicity representations in media are marked with the presence of the same few reoccurring negative stereotypes of blacks.  In his documentaries Ethnic Notions and Color Adjustment Marlon Riggs takes us back in time to the early 1900s to the earliest occurrence of these negative images in print, film, and radio, then to the 1950s to the advent of television.  Herman Gray recalls in his article The Politics of Representation in Network Television that these negative representations of blacks were the first to be seen on network television and have remained the context that all subsequent images are based.  Many of the authors of the reviewed literature use the ideological framework of white supremacy and patriarchy to evaluate the constructions and impact of race representations in media.  Race representations were found to be a part of apparatus that supports the ideologies that bell hooks describes in her writings and video as the “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

One of gaps found in the literature and media in this field is the absence of the incorporation of positive representations of race, gender, and ethnicity or those that mark progress in the field.  Robert Entmas and ??? include some references in The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America, but the field is need of greater a focus and emphasis on those race representations in media positive for the purpose of promoting these images and encouraging progress in the field.  Katrina E. Bell-Jordan and Rebecca Ann Lind do a thorough analysis of reality television in Black.White. and a Survivor of the Real World : Constructions of Race on Reality TV and RACE/GENDER/MEDIA: Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content, and Producers, there is room for more inquiry into race, gender, and ethnicity representations in new media and within new trends in network television such as reality TV.

The field of race, gender, and media is a fairly new and growing field.  The majority of the literature and media found has been written in the last couple of decades.  The text and theory crosses disciplines and mainly uses the methodology of content analysis.  One measure of the significance of the field is that it is not only is looking at diversifying representations within the field, the field itself is diversifying media and cultural studies by allowing the writing of prominent theorists of color to emerge.   The study of representations of race, gender, and ethnicity critiques not only media but society.  It is critical that this field exist and grow so that a critical framework will continue to develop around media representation of race, and systems of power can begin to be dismantled so that everyone has the opportunity to fairly and accurately represent themselves.


Bell-Jordan, K. Black.White. and a Survivor of the Real World: Constructions of race on reality TV .5(4), 353.

Riggs, M. T., Kleiman, V., Dee, R., Rolle, E., Carroll, D., Nicholas, D., et al (Producers), & . (2004). Color adjustment [videorecording]. [Video/DVD] San Francisco, Calif.: San Francisco, Calif. : California Newsreel.

Riggs, M. T., Kleiman, V., Dee, R., Rolle, E., Carroll, D., Nicholas, D., et al (Producers), & . (2004). Color adjustment [videorecording]. [Video/DVD] San Francisco, Calif.: San Francisco, Calif. : California Newsreel.

Durham, M. G., & Kellner, D. M. (Eds.). (2006). Media and Cultural Studies (Revised ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Entman, R. M. (2000). In Rojecki A. (Ed.), The Black Image in the White Mind : Media and Race in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Riggs, M. T., & California Newsreel (Firm) (Producers), (1987). Ethnic Notions [videorecording]. [Video/DVD] Berkeley, CA: Berkeley, CA : California Newsreel.

Fischer, C. (2009). Independent Lens. Retrieved November/15, 2009, from http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop/literacy.htm

Gender, Race, and Class in Media : A text-reader(1995). In Dines G., Humez J. M. (Eds.), . Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gray, H. (2001). The Politics of Representation in Network Television. (1st ed., pp. 439). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Gray, H., 1950-. (2004). Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for Blackness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hall, S. (1995). The Whites of Their Eyes – Racist Ideologies and the Media. In Dines, Gail and Humez, Jean M (Ed.), Gender, Race and Class in Media – A Text Reader (2nd ed., pp. 89). London and New Dehli: Sage Publications.

Hurt, B., Gordon, S. S., Winters, B., God Bless the Child Productions, Independent Television Service, National Black Programming Consortium, et al (Producers), & . (2006). Hip-Hop [videorecording] : Beyond Beats and Rhymes. [Video/DVD] Northampton, MA: Northampton, MA : Media Education Foundation.

hooks, b. (2006). In Durham, M.G and Kellner, D.M (Ed.), (2nd ed., pp. 366) Blackwell Publishing.

Media Education Foundation (Producer), & Hooks, B. (Director). (1997). bell hooks [videorecording] : Cultural Criticism & Transformation. [Video/DVD] Northampton, MA: Northampton, MA : Media Education Foundation.

Race/Gender/Media : Considering Diversity, Across Audiences, Content, and Producers(2010). In Lind R. A. (Ed.), . Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

The Plan…Academically Speaking

18 12 2009

Ndelea Simama

Academic Plan

“I do not expect the white media to create positive black images.”

-Huey Newton


I am passionate about the complex identity and representations of African Americans and other communities of color within the United States.  And I am equally passionate about the power, ubiquity, and art of media.  I am pursuing Media Studies at The New School to investigate the intersections of race and media and to create black media, most specifically film, that stimulate, provoke, and help to positively transform individuals and society.  My course of study will be a blend of race and media theory and film production courses.  During my time in the program I hope to specify my interests in race and media and create a stimulating thesis and accompanying short film project that progresses my topics interest.  It is my desire to build professional and creative relationships at The New School and in New York City.  It is also my intention to stretch myself creatively and intellectually to discover my talents and passions within Media Studies.


Identify Research Topic

Upon completion of my MA in Media Studies I hope to have identified a unique topic of research within the field of race, gender, and Media Studies.   So far I have discovered that I have an interest in the interplay of race and gender representations in media.  I am also interested in investigating the relationship of African Americans to first and second orality.  It is my desire to explore these topics through my coursework and independent study and arrive at a topic that I am intensely passionate about and that will sustain my interest for further inquiry for the succeeding years.  I will explore this topic in my thesis which I hope will provide a substantial foundation upon which a dissertation can be built.   My thesis will also include a short documentary component that will address and develop my thesis topic.  Though related, the short documentary will possess the ability to stand alone, apart from my thesis topic, and be further developed into a larger video project.

I also hope to have honed my academic writing and developed the beginnings of my own unique race and media theory that fills a gap in or advances the field.  In addition, I hope to have attained a set of film and video production skills that will allow me to produce short and full feature films in the future.  More than becoming proficient in the art of video production as a whole, I hope instead to identify my niche within video production.  I have a slight suspicion my niche may be editing.  Through the program I hope to fully explore video editing both experientially and through the theoretic understanding of the positioning and relationship of editing to the other parts of the production process.

Build Relationships

It is my hope that I will have built important relationships and networks by the time I have completed my Masters in Media Studies.  Three important categories of relationships and networks that I hope to leave the Media Studies Program with include the following:

  • Student Relationships.   I hope to have established relationships with other students within the Media Studies program.  It is my hope that I will have identified students that have similar interests and aspirations as mine.  This I see as an important part of collaboration, synergy, and the communal process of creative growth.  I too am interested in building relationships with students with interests that vary from mine.  I see this as important for collaborative projects and partnerships that may be enhanced by drawing upon the strengths and interests of others that may differ from mine.  It is my intention that these relationships be authentic, based on mutual respect and a genuine interest in collaboration, sharing, and growth.
  • Expert Relationships. I hope to have built connections with experts in the field of Media Studies.  Experts include professors from The New School and surrounding universities, as well as lecturers, local media makers, and media activists.   I see meetings, volunteering, and internships as potential ways to build these relationships.
  • Field Relationships. I hope to have identified and worked with the movers and shakers in the field of race and Media Studies.  My plan is to identify and meet many of the intellectuals, artists, and activists doing work that intersects race and media.   This knowledge will allow me to align and myself with the individuals and work that inspires and resonates with.  I hope to attend conferences, share my work own academic and creative work, and cultivate a thorough understanding of the field.  In the event that there is not a cohesive “field,” it will be my work to begin the process of connecting individuals, projects, and organizations to help build a cohesive field of race and media studies.



One of the reasons I chose The New School was because of the incredible opportunity it presents to build connections within its academic community and in the media industry situated within New York City.  Hence, I find it tremendously important for me to take advantage of the chance to build powerful connections during my time in the Media Studies program.  Pursuing the program full time and only working only part-time affords me the opportunity to take advantage of a variety of volunteer and internship opportunities.  It also provides me with the capacity to fully immerse myself into various student activities, and build important connections with students and professors.  These areas of involvement support each other, are connected, and will serve to help me establish an invaluable network.  My involvement in student activities will allow me to build relationships with other students as well as faculty advisors.  My volunteer activities may potentially lead to jobs and internships.  And the relationships I establish with professors could lead to my involvement in new student activities, volunteer opportunities, as well as job and internship opportunities.

New School Staff and Faculty

I am interested in building relationships with several Media Studies faculty such as Michelle Materre, Rafael Parra, and Peter Haratonik.  I most interested in working with Michelle Materre because of her deep involvement in black independent film.  I hope to learn from her unique marriage of the theoretical and practical elements of race and media, as well as her from expertise in independent film producing and distribution.  Also, I am interested in mentoring and instruction on editing from Rafael Parra.  From Peter Haratonik, I am interested in exploring ideas for creating a multifaceted career in media education.

Student Activities

I am interested in contributing to the publication of the online journal Immediacy. I also plan to create an organization called Media in Color that looks at issues of race and representation in media.  This organization will serve two purposes: one purpose will be to promote, examine, and exchange multicultural media projects, the second purpose will be to create a network of people of color pursuing media at the New School.  The organization will share and discuss creative projects as well as host a couple of race and media education events on campus.  In addition Media in Color will produce a publication and/or or site for information, project, and resources sharing, and to expand and formalize our network.

Jobs, Internships, and Volunteering

My goal is to secure an exciting internship in multicultural film or a media related field each summer during my time in my program.   My goal is to secure an internship at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.  Tyler Perry Studios is one of the largest black film production studios in the country.  In addition, I am interested in volunteering with the development and fundraising for a short independent black film entitled Pariah into full length feature film. Pariah is a film that explores issues addressing queer black youth and won awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival as well as at the Inside OUT Toronto Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.  I hope also to volunteer at an organization that is part of the growing youth media movement and with immerging black media networks such as The Black Public Media Project.

Ndelea’s Media Studies Course of Study

Course of Study

The curriculum I created is comprised of an almost equal balance of theory and practice courses.  I merged the thesis and Film Forum track.   The curriculum I created leaves me with the options of pursuing both a Ph.D. and independent filmmaking.  Ideally, I would like to be in a position to do both, using my knowledge, networks, and thesis and film projects to complement each other.

Theory Courses

Race, Ethnicity, and Class in the Media

Mediating Consumption, Controlling the Body

The Producer’s Craft

Independent Study


The theory courses I selected either relate to my field of interest: race, gender, and media studies, or film theory.   I hope to create an independent study course that allows me to go deeper into a specific topic within race and gender studies filling the gap of courses in the university that address race.  The independent study course will provide an opportunity to conduct inquiry into a topic related to my thesis topic that could potentially enhance my research.

Production Courses

Media Practices: Film Form

Cinematography: Art and Technique

Film Form Production Studio

Film Form Post-Production Studio

The theory courses I selected come straight from the Film Forum and Practice concentration.  The film forum and practice concentration will afford me the opportunity to learn filmmaking as a practical and theoretical art.

Methods and Other Courses of Interest

Research Methods in Media Activism

Europe and Its ‘Others’: Race and Nation, from the Age – New School for Social Research: Liberal Studies

Race, Culture and Politics – New School for Social Research: Sociology

The methods course I chose is in line with my commitment to applying my academic work to the advancement of feminist and racial justice activist causes.  There are two courses, Europe and Its ‘Others’: Race and Nation, from the Age – New School for Social Research: Liberal Studies and Race, Culture and Politics – New School for Social Research : Sociology,

that examine race, power, and identity in the Liberal Studies and Sociology departments that are of interest to me.  I did not include them in my course of study because there is not room in my full time two year plan for program completion.  However, I may explore a couple of these courses over the summer.


In my time at The New School I plan to explore race and gender and representation in media and film production.  During my time here I hope to learn the landscape and become engrossed in the field or race and media studies and contribute to black film projects through volunteering and internships. In addition, I plan to engage the field of race and media at the New School by starting an organization that discusses relevant topics and builds a formal network of multicultural leaders in media.  Most importantly I hope refine my interests, discover and cultivate new talents, and incite creativity and passion for my studies, projects, and relationships.  It is my plan to leave the New School equipped with a unique skill set, refined research interests, quality creative projects, and a dynamic network that will leave me will worthwhile academic and artistic profession options.


18 12 2009

Anti-Rap Attitudes: Cause or Effect?

Ndelea Simama

The New School: Media Studies

Blame It on Hip Hop: Anti-Rap Attitudes as a Proxy for Prejudice is an article that presents compelling research on the relationship of negative attitudes about rap music to racial prejudice against blacks.  It is especially relevant to today’s dialogue about race and the ways in which discrimination against Blacks is overtly and covertly expressed.  Hip hop culture has become a topic of much discussion gaining mainstream popularity throughout the world and inciting a great deal of controversy.  Hip Hop culture developed among Black and Latino working class in the United States in the late 1970s, but its origins date back to the poetic cadences of 1960s poets, preachers, and civil rights leaders, and to ancient African culture.  Hip Hop is comprised of DJing, break dancing, graffiti art, and rap music (Vibe Magazine, 1999).  The studies conducted within this body of research look solely at responses to rap music.  The studies investigate the relationship of anti-rap attitudes to anti-black beliefs and behaviors.  The authors set out to prove the theory that, “…perceptions of rap music have become a vehicle for reinforcing stereotypes of Blacks, and in particular, stereotypes that suggest that Blacks intentionally violate American values and are to blame for their lower status in society” (Reyna, Brandt, Viki, 2009, p. 364).  Further, the claim is made that these stereotypes could be used to legitimize discrimination against blacks.   This is an important inquiry into the nuances of prejudice and persuasive arguments.  All three of the samples showed a correlation between anti-rap sentiments and pervasive stereotypes blaming Blacks for their socioeconomic conditions.  Anti-rap attitudes were also associated with discriminatory personal and political behaviors.  A clear association was established between these components, however, it is unclear whether the research conducted proves anti-rap attitudes reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudice against blacks.  It is more logical to draw the conclusion that the presences of negative stereotypes and prejudice against blacks contribute to anti-rap attitudes in non blacks.

The hypotheses created by the research team fail to prove the causal relationship of anti-rap attitudes that is implied in the article.  Only an association of anti-rap attitudes and anti-black sentiments was proven by each of the studies, “We have found that the stereotypes about rap are pervasive and have powerful consequences.  In all three samples, negative attitudes toward rap were associated with negative stereotypes of Blacks that blamed blacks for economic plights…Anti-rap attitudes were also associated with discrimination against Blacks, through both personal behaviors …and political behaviors…”(Reyna, Brandt, Viki, 2009, p. 374). This quote presents an overview of the findings, but also demonstrates the tone of article which implies more than association of anti-rap attitudes to anti-black attitudes and behaviors, but an attribution of anti-black attitudes and behaviors to anti-rap attitudes.  The authors’ description of rap attitudes as being “pervasive” and having “powerful consequences” is evidence that the article was written and research was conducted from the framework that stereotypes about rap are more than associations, and contribute to anti-Black attitudes and behavior.

It is more plausible to view anti-rap attitudes, as well as negative stereotypes of blacks, within the context of racist behaviors and attitudes against blacks.  There is a clear relationship between these elements, but racism exists as a larger system and umbrella, which all things fall under.  “Racism, like other forms of oppression, is not only a personal ideology based on prejudice, but a system involving cultural messages and institutional policies and practices as well as the beliefs and actions of individuals” (Tatum, 1997, p.7).   Tatum’s definition of racism is inclusive of all the various manifestations of racism.  It is logical to assume that one dimensional anti-rap attitudes, as well as negatives stereotypes of blacks, would both be part of the system of racism that includes cultural messages, and beliefs of individuals.  Therefore the argument could be posed that it is not the stereotypes about rap that have “powerful consequences” but rather a system of racism as a whole that has powerful consequences and far reaching effects.

The authors attribute anti-rap attitudes to anti-black attitudes in the concluding general discussion, “One explanation for this association is that prejudice against Blacks makes anything associated with Black culture aversive, and these associations are by-products of anti-Black attitudes producing both prejudice/discrimination and a distaste for rap music” (Reyna, Brandt, Viki, 2009, p. 374).  This explanation is later described in the article as an “oversimplification” and said to be refuted by prior research conveying that rap is more offensive to whites than other forms of black music.  This however does not discount the explanation that anti-rap attitudes and their associations with stereotypes and discrimination against blacks are part of the perpetuation of racism.  It only adds a possible inquiry as to why does rap elicit an even stronger manifestation of racism.  This question, though multifaceted, provides opportunities to draw upon many already existing conclusions about hip hop culture, some of which have been presented in the article.  One of these conclusions is the fact that hip hop grew out of the scarcity of working class youth or color, a disadvantaged demographic of American society, whose access to the media of music and pop culture threaten the status quo.  There is also the conclusion presented in the article that, “some see rap as a tool for urban empowerment because it provides an honest look at the realities of growing up Black in America, and gives young people, who have been historically invisible to a system that disproportionately favors” (Reyna, Brandt, Viki, 2009, p. 362). These conclusions could be clues to why rap music is more aversive to whites, than say gospel music.

The body of research presented in Blame It on Hip Hop: Anti-Rap Attitudes as a Proxy for Prejudice present an interesting inquiry into the association of anti-rap attitudes to negative stereotypes about blacks and discriminatory beliefs and practices.  However, the implication that is suggested that anti-rap attitudes reinforce and even contribute in some ways to stereotypes and forms of discrimination has not been proven.  A more appropriate rationalization as to the nature of these associations would be that anti-rap attitudes, negative stereotype about blacks, and discriminatory ideas and behaviors are all effects of a powerful system of racism that penetrates society and effects institutions as well as the beliefs and behaviors of individuals.


Brandt, M., Reyna, C., Viki, G.T.(2009).  Blame It on Hip-Hop: Anti-Rap Attitudes as a Proxy for Prejudice. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 12(3), 361-380.

Tatum, B (1997). Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race. New York: Basic Books

Vibe Magazine (1999). Vibe History of Hip Hop. New York: Three Rivers Press.