Messages and African-American Culture: Contemporary Issues, co-edited
by Venise T. Berry and Carmen L. Manning Miller, features 16 chapters
by 20 leading scholars and critics who tackle complicated and controversial
issues regarding the images and messages about African-Americans in
movies, television, music/radio, and print. Despite the fact that
the number of images and messages are increasing, these scholars have
found that many remain problematic.
ideals and attitudes have been formed and solidified over decades
into accepted ideologies and norms about African Americans,"
writes Berry in the book's introduction. "Although
I don't believe that the media have an all-encompassing power or
over their audience, I do recognize that they serve as a primary
source of communication in this country, and, therefore, their images
ideals can affect specific people, at specific times, in specific
ways, in specific contexts." The importance of race continually
changes as American Society changes. While overt and malicious racism
still exists, it is expanding into a complex mix of race-related
issues in contemporary society, It has been identified as various
modern or enlightened racism and Berry suggests an even broader concept
penetrates all aspects of our society, especially the media. It is
perpetuated by historical, sociological and ideological distinctions
between races. it molds itself into simpler and subtler forms of racism.
It is born out of what sociologist, Herman Gray calls, "America's
storehouse of racial memory." It can be accepted, created and
used by any individual from any culture.
Images of African
Americans in our culture abound—on television,
in film, on the radio and in print. Mediated Messages and African
American Culture examines these images and messages from a wholistic
perspective. It brings together works by leading scholars on vital
topics like rap, music black men and the police, television, Black
Americans and the American dream, news and the O.J. Simpson murder
case, sex on soaps, framing stories of racially comparative risk,
newspaper coverage of the L.A. riots, the new ghetto aesthetic and
cultural engineering through the films of Spike Lee. Case studies
and a mixture of theory and practice make this text a thorough analysis
of the image and portrayal of African Americans in the media.