Saturday, July 02, 2022

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Article Index

Representational Racism

Depictions of racial stereotypes are common in popular culture and media, like the historical tendency to cast people of color as criminals and as victims of crime rather than in other roles, or as background characters rather than as leads in film and television. Also common are racial caricatures that are racist in their representations, like “mascots” for the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and the Washington Redskins.

The power of representational racism—or racism expressed in how racial groups are represented within popular culture—is that it encapsulates a whole range of racist ideas that imply inferiority, and often stupidity and untrustworthiness, in images that circulate society and permeate our culture. While those not directly harmed by representational racism might not take it seriously, the presence of such images and our interaction with them on a near-constant basis helps to keep alive the racist ideas attached to them.

 

 

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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