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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Mass Communications Studies

First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Keith Hilton

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


The purpose of this study was to explore and expose racial stereotypes of African Americans in the mass media. The research was conducted as a historical analysis using historical artifacts from as early as 1619. These historical artifacts include journal articles, books, websites, research papers, and films that are both explanation pieces and examples of black stereotypes. All of the historical artifacts were found through Internet search engines and article databases including the University of the Pacific's library database. Other materials given to pinpoint information for this study were also given by University of the Pacific professors. All of the information was examined and synthesized into this study. In order to expose and uncover past and contemporary African American stereotypes, the historical information collected for this study was organized. The results revealed three categories: (1) the initial stereotypes that blackface created, (2) the extent to which initial racial stereotypes affect today's status of African American depictions and, (3) the occurrences of blackface in today's contemporary media. This historical analysis provides a rich background to past stereotypes of African Americans as well as develops a framework for critiquing the status of black stereotypes in today's contemporary media. The analysis of the historical artifacts found that the initial depiction of blackface (one of the original forms of African American stereotypes) is not necessarily a thing of the past. In addition this study concluded that the initial stereotypes of African Americans have not only influenced the African American depictions of today but also that in many ways the portrayals are the same and just “packaged” differently.



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