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Ethnic Notions1986

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  • 4.6
ETHNIC NOTIONS is Marlon Riggs' Emmy-winning documentary that takes viewers on a disturbing voyage through American history, tracing for the first time the deep-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-black prejudice. Through these images we can begin to understand the evolution of racial consciousness in America. Loyal Toms, carefree Sambos, faithful Mammies, grinning Coons, savage Brutes, and wide-eyed Pickaninnies roll across the screen in cartoons, feature films, popular songs, minstrel shows, advertisements, folklore, household artifacts, even children's rhymes. These dehumanizing caricatures permeated popular culture from the 1820s to the Civil Rights period and implanted themselves deep in the American psyche. Narration by Esther Rolle and commentary by respected scholars shed light on the origins and devastating consequences of this 150 yearlong parade of bigotry. ETHNIC NOTIONS situates each stereotype historically in white society's shifting needs to justify racist oppression from slavery to the present day. The insidious images exacted a devastating toll on black Americans and continue to undermine race relations. ETHNIC NOTIONS has quickly become a mainstay of university, high school, and public library collections. It is a basic audio visual text for American History, Sociology, Black Studies, Anthropology, Social Psychology, Media Studies, and any training program concerned with stereotyping and cross-cultural understanding. Approaching a complex and delicate subject with great sensitivity, ETHNIC NOTIONS equips viewers to view media and other cultural representations with a more critical eye. It's a direct challenge to those who say, "It was just a joke."

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1 member likes this review

This was absolutely worthwhile to watch. The depth and clarity of the narration, by Ester Rolle, coupled with the historical images depicting racial stereotypes was ingenious explaining and elucidating how the evolution of stereotypes have been perpetuated through various forms of the media. Ultimately culminating in the question of how much do these stereotypes, and our acceptance of how African Americans are portrayed, have to do with deeply ingrained racist ideologies within the whole of American Society? Amazing.

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Member Reviews (8)

This was absolutely worthwhile to watch. The depth and clarity of the narration, by Ester Rolle, coupled with the historical images depicting racial stereotypes was ingenious explaining and elucidating how the evolution of stereotypes have been perpetuated through various forms of the media. Ultimately culminating in the question of how much do these stereotypes, and our acceptance of how African Americans are portrayed, have to do with deeply ingrained racist ideologies within the whole of American Society? Amazing.

1 member likes this review

Moving and informative, this is a great documentary on racist stereotypes of black people. Required viewing.

well done doc about black racial stereotyping and cultural oppression. as a black man, this pissed me off good and proper. if I was not a black man I have no idea how I would feel about this because how could I?

I watched it for my English Literature course, its really moving.

TRUE HISTORY OF AMERICA AND ITS TREATMENT OF BLACK AMERICANS.

I feel this documentary is the most truthful presentation of why and how the American Negro has been so maligned by our society, a misrepresentation that still exists today.

Informative and well thought out. Great commentary from the experts.

Very interesting and insightful. Gives much to consider.