I know there’s countless bodies of work on these two subjects but I only want to discuss them in a narrow way right now. This topic of systemic racism and white supremacy has all but taken over lately. Depending on who people listen to they’ll hear some version of what these things mean. Personally, I try to avoid believing anybody’s interpretation because people have agendas who use concepts like racism and white supremacy as a pretext to confirm their world views on the rest of us. And strange as it may sound, they feel like the very thing they claim to be against in disguised. Let’s just say I remain skeptical of their motives.
On the topic of white supremacy however, I usually fall on Dr. Frances Cress Welsing’s words. Whether it be completely right or not, I at least get a sense that her work was authentic and not opportunistic. But I bring her up because she illustrated a number of ways that white supremacy maintains itself. One of those ways was through film. I talk about film occasionally on here because I enjoy entertainment, but also because I’ve become more aware of the danger it often presents. I recall having a professor in college who once echoed that same thing; that film was dangerous. I have the slightest clue why he said that back then but it was something that never left my mind. When I hear about stereotypes and read analyses from Eric Pierson and others who outline a particular trend, I kind of fill in the gaps to why.
We largely watch films for enjoyment and I imagine people think nothing of them afterward. But once you start to grasp stereotypes, the impressions they have on the mind and how these things can influence behaviors, it’s without question that they serve a multifaceted purpose. Whether it’s intentional or not doesn’t really matter when the outcome, the influencing of minds, remains the same.
Just looking at who is portrayed as what and how often, we get to see a range of things and they all communicate to us on a subconscious level. The white person is always the hero. The black person always dies. You get the picture. It‘s these constant images that are played out and repeated one way or another, which in turn leaves a lasting impression if not countered. I come to think these people in charge of films being made understand this. Maybe they don’t and are oblivious in their pursuit of profit and recognition.
The black person is portrayed in some of the worst conditions whereas a white person is portrayed differently. You can sort of understand how someone who’s white and never interacted with a black person before could have a such a distorted reality of black people. The image of themselves is just as distorted but it’s often done in a way that inspires. White people are always doing next level shit in films like fighting dinosaurs, aliens, solving crimes and killing bad guys like they’re invincible. The list goes on and on.
On the other hand, their counterparts in society are captured doing average things; destructive to society things or simply victims of society itself. Just image someone with an empty brain filling their mind with all these images created on screen. Not just black or white but the other groups as well. It’ll have some influence on their behavior toward each one. As they say, racism is taught. How is it taught though? I’d say from the very images captured on screen. The way these images depict certain people, it contributes to people’s way of thinking about others, including themselves.
I’ve made some thoughts to all this before but it’s definitely something I’d want to truly dive more into. I say so because entertainment consumes a part of my attention, and even more so now with constant access to it. I assume that’s the case for others. One other thing about it that interest me is it deals with the workings of the mind and the manipulation of it to further what appears to be a well-oiled system controlled and financed by non-black people. It then spreads across the world like covid-19, influencing others all the same. To reference Mrs. Welsing, it’s white supremacy’s job to maintain dominance and control in a society filled with people who have the capacity to genetically annihilate them. In every way possible this is what I understand to be white supremacy and why things like it and racism exist.
1. Pierson, Eric. “Black on Black Crime: Hollywood’s Construction of the Hood.” ERIC, 30 Nov. 1996, https://shuns-lab.com/s/hollywood
2. Manchel, Frank. “Film Images of the Negro.” The Teacher’s Guide to Media & Methods, 31 Mar. 1967, eric.ed.gov/?id=ED028159.
3. “Don’t Let Go #NotAReview.” Shun’s Lab, 2 May 2020, shuns-lab.com/s/dnl.
4. “See You Yesterday: #NotAReview.” Shun’s Lab, 29 June 2019, shuns-lab.com/s/syy.