Stereotypes: The false assumptions
What caused a war that ripped our nation apart in the 19th century; led to both peaceful and violent protests, as well as race riots, in the 20th century; and still has an effect on our today’s stereotypical assumptions.
The majority of the images of African Americans produced in the United States in the 19th century drew heavily on certain stereotypes. Describe one of these stereotypes, and then discuss how it was used to promote certain ideas about this group of people. Indicate also the realities of this group that the stereotype failed to represent. Use a specific image from our textbook to illustrate your discussion post. Is this stereotype still seen today?
In the 19th-century United States, the images and representations of African Americans were heavily influenced by racial stereotypes. One common stereotype was the “Sambo” stereotype. The Sambo stereotype portrayed African Americans as lazy, childlike, and content with their status as slaves or second-class citizens. This stereotype was used to promote the idea that African Americans were inherently inferior to white people and that slavery was a natural and necessary institution.
Images depicting the Sambo stereotype often showed African Americans with exaggerated features, such as large lips and wide eyes, reinforcing the idea of their supposed racial inferiority. These images were widely circulated in popular culture, including in minstrel shows, literature, and visual art.
The reality, of course, was very different. African Americans were enslaved and subjected to brutal conditions, which limited their opportunities for education and social mobility. However, this stereotype failed to represent the resilience, intelligence, and diverse experiences of African Americans who, despite the oppressive circumstances, often resisted slavery and worked toward freedom.
Today, while overt racial stereotypes like the Sambo stereotype may have become less prevalent in mainstream media, subtler forms of bias and racial stereotypes still exist. Stereotypical assumptions and biases continue to affect how African Americans and other minority groups are perceived and treated in society. Efforts to combat these stereotypes and promote a more accurate and equitable representation of all racial and ethnic groups remain ongoing challenges in the United States and elsewhere.
Read Chapter 4 pages 195209,
**textbook (Framing America: A Social History of American Art) can be accessed online @