"Do Black People realize what is being done to them?" This is now being gradually realized although not in its entirety. Material will be presented to show that there has been a calculated, organized, sophisticated, continuous, determined attempt to wipe out the image of Black people. Although each of these words is very important, it is not understood in this way because Blacks will interpret most of it to be incidental, unintentional and occasional when in fact it is universal.
For example, the underlined section of this 1910-11 article from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, states that "mentally, the Negro is inferior to the white." Keep in mind that these are actually scholars talking about the images related to Black people.
It goes on to state that "as children, Negroes were bright and intelligent, but as they became adults, gradually a change set in and lethargy became typical of Black people. As they got older therefore, Black people and white people were biologically different."
This is what is written in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and sanctioned by the academic establishment which is supposed to be the "Mercedes" of encyclopaedias that can be bought in a supermarket for $2.00 a volume.
Another example is the political posters that were being publicized and displayed during the time of the freeing of the slaves, which ridiculed and undermined the sympathy and compassion that people may have had for supporting the freed slaves.
Notice how the caricature of the Black male is prominent. On the left side of this poster is a tiny white man who is struggling to chop wood. The idea here was to project the impression that he has to support this Black male who is just lazy and resting.
This should be of interest because at this time if you were to ask the question "who was really working and who was doing the sitting down," it would be obvious that the opposite was in fact true, but this is an example of perceptual distortion and denial of reality.
Here is another example displayed in the political posters that were developed during the time when Abraham Lincoln was re-elected. An attempt was made to frighten people into believing that rampant miscegenation (race mixing) was going to take place.
If you look at the picture closely you will notice that the Black male is always being "caricatured", which was a very common feature back then. This was always the case when one group of people wanted to dominate another group with the main purpose of destroying what they perceived to be the source of power in that group.
In the white mind, physical power resided and still resides in the Black male, so this was one reason why attempts were made repeatedly to weaken that image and undermine any sense of worth in the Black male.
Here is another example taken from The Atlanta Constitution (1915), a daily newspaper, which was following the same path as the encyclopaedia and the political posters.
On the left is an advertisement for the movie, “Birth of a Nation”, which was considered to be one of the most popular films in America, and promoted as a great movie. It won an award for being one of the most technically excellent movies ever developed.
“Birth of a Nation” was based on a novel by Ivan Dixon called
“The Klansman”which glorified the Ku Klux Klan, and talked about how it rescued the south from all these freed slaves that were beginning to destroy what was present. This movie therefore helped the south to re-conceive its images in ways that were positive, especially the role that was played by the Klan.
The Birth of a Nation with its manipulation of the Black image was one of the factors that caused The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) to come into existence aggressively. National boycotts to ban this movie were organized, yet it was highly successful at the box office as the country at large was praising this type of movie.
The current appreciation of this movie regarding what some white Americans had learnt was that it fed a subliminal need to identify with those values that were projected in these movies.
People were also fascinated with the movie “Gone with the Wind”, as they began talking about how good life was before the slaves were freed. Another similar type of movie was “Out of Afrika”, where the white settlers looked back and talked about how good it used to be in Afrika before Afrikans took over “their” country.
Since the United States is predominately white, it will project positive images of itself which should be understood in that way. The Rambo type image for example is a total fabrication, because that was not the way the heroic Vietnam veterans lived. They said so themselves, but Hollywood will always try to promote and romanticize the image of the white male.
Note also on the right side of that same daily newspaper is an advertisement for membership in the Ku Klux Klan, which showed the types of topics being promoted.
So in addition to the Encyclopaedia, the newspapers, and posters, the film industry became the next voice to take up the attack, where actors like Stephen Fetchit arrived on to the scene.
Thousands of images promoting a weak Black male set side by side to the image of a strong white male were being projected, and this became very common. This could not have taken place over a number of years without having some sort of impact on the minds of all viewers, regardless of their racial or ethnic background.
Here is that same cliché again highlighting the stereotype of a weak, negative image of the Black male placed next to a positive image of the white male. Here it is again with the cool Robert Redford type hero on the left, and sitting next to him is a frightened, horrified Black male, with bulging eyes.
© John Moore - Barbados, W.I. (March 2000) ©. All rights reserved.