“Ethnic Notions” Analysis Essay Example
“Ethnic Notions” Analysis Essay Example

“Ethnic Notions” Analysis Essay Example

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"Ethnic Notions" is a historical movie that provides a comprehensive overview of American history, spanning from the 1820s to the 1980s. The significance of this movie lies in its portrayal of various artifacts and songs, which make it a highly impactful tool. It explores the terms and stereotypes used to depict black Americans, such as the "Mammy," the "Coon," and the "Sambo," which were prevalent well into the 20th century. The concept of the "Sambo" gained popularity in early 1900s films and depicted black men as lazy, irresponsible individuals who would rather indulge in food and dance than work. As the civil war approached, a new character called the "Zip Coon" emerged alongside the Sambo stereotype. This character mocked the idea of racial equality and defended slavery by asserting that black people were incapable of handling freedom. In movies, the ro


le of the "Mammy" was that of a devoted servant, often depicted as a dark-skinned and overweight woman who prioritized fulfilling her master or mistress's wishes. The Mammy figure represented loyalty and protection to white families and became an iconic symbol of Southern imagery, making it nearly impossible to find a Southern home without this character.This character served as a guardian of bondage but was also the dominant force within her own household, which contrasts society's perception of the family. The character is portrayed as nonsexual and unattractive. After the slaves were freed, some white individuals believed that they were incapable of handling independence from their white masters. Society referred to these freed black individuals as "beasts" and labeled them a "black threat" out of growing public fear. The development of motion pictures in th

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twentieth century did not change the depiction of black Americans. The only difference now was that hatred was portrayed on film. Black individuals began entering the theater industry as a means to escape the South and pursue new opportunities. During the 1940s, blackface became obsolete but its impact on society remained. Cartoons then became a platform for racism, turning instances of violence and mistreatment into entertainment and humorizing stereotypes about black Americans being savages. It was believed that only slavery had tamed black Americans, as without white control, their entire race would deteriorate into barbarism."Ethnic Notions" is a comprehensive examination of the origins of racism and stereotypes against African Americans. This film delves into 150 years of racism and animosity towards black Americans, showcasing the pervasive societal imagery that portrayed them as indolent and irresponsible. Moreover, it explores the notion that without slavery to control them, myths propagated that they would revert to uncivilized behavior.

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