• The representation of African American girls and women in popular culture throughout the 20th century

      Honigman, Lindsay (2021-12)
      Photographs are a key component in deepening one’s comprehension of Black portrayals and their profound impact on the Black community. This picture essay focuses on the positive and negative representations of Black girls and women throughout the 20th century. Black girls and women had been sexually and physically objectified by a variety of stereotypes. The most familiar example of this would be the Aunt Jemima caricature, a face and product of the Mammy stereotype that desexualized and devalued Black women. Meanwhile, another stereotype, the Jezebel, oversexualized Black girls and women. This advertised Black women as undesirable while simultaneously justifying assault from white men. While negativity about Black girls and women was created by white people, positive portrayals were also being produced by the Black community. Media like sheet music, Ebony Magazine, and The Cosby Show, were just a few examples of positive representations created by Black people. Rather than allowing white people to define Blackness as animalistic and Black culture as one that lacked civility, the Black community sought to assert themselves as valuable, respectable, and intelligent middle-class humans in America. As Black girls grew up with the white definition of Blackness, the effects from these portrayals shifted how they judged their own beauty, intelligence, and value. This paper strives to explain how the stereotypes that Black girls and women have been categorized under are prevalent and perpetuated through the early 20th century to the latter end of the century, and beyond. Keywords: ● Bachelor of Science Early Childhood/Childhood Education, History (B-6) ● Mammy Caricature ● Jezebel Stereotype ● Sapphire Caricature ● Picaninny Stereotype ● Colorism