Hendrix And King

Racism is a problem that the American people have grappled with since colonial
times. The 1960's saw the rise of Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X, who not
only influenced the civil rights movement but attempted to solve the problem of
racism in this country. On February 16, 1965, Malcolm X gave a speech called
"Not Just An American Problem, but a World Problem". In his speech he
provides a theory on the relationship between media and racism called
"image making" which still has validity today. On first reading,

Malcolm's tone is angry and his theory on "image making" sounds
absurd. He states: They (racists) use the press to get public opinion on their
side. . . this is a science called "image making". they hold you in
check through this science of imagery. They even make you look down upon
yourself, by giving you a bad image of yourself. Some of our own Black people
who have eaten this image themselves and digested it -- until they themselves
don't want to live in the Black community. Yet, current television programming
seems to favor this idea. Local news programs continue to show
"colored" communities as dangerous and gang-infested. They continually
rely on the reports of these areas for the bulk of their news and overlook the
positive images that residents of these areas try to create. For example, KNTV
news continually reports on the thefts and shootings in East San Jose but does
not make an effort to show how residents are dealing with these situations. The
day a local East San Jose church helped sway the city council to put a
streetlight on a very busy intersection, the news pre-empted the report with an
accident on another East San Jose intersection. As a result, most people in
these communities do not realize that they have power to change their area and
have a great desire to move out of these areas. They have become prisoners who
have bought into the image of East San Jose. Yet, local news programs are not
the only ones to blame for "image making"; documentaries have played a
part in the negative images of blacks. Malcolm X makes the claim that the
negative image of communities in America are just a small part of the
"image making" process. The documentary film has done the same for
their African homeland. He states: They (the press) projected Africa in a
negative image, a hateful image. They made us think that Africa was a land of
jungles, a land of animals, a land of cannibals and savages. It was a hateful
image. Current documentaries of Africa are still about their jungles and their
tribes. Although they do not have a racist tone, the idea that African people
are still uncivilized continues. The result is: Black people here in America who
hated everything about us that was African. . . it was you who taught us to hate
ourselves simply by shrewdly maneuvering us into hating the land of our
forefathers and the people on that continent. These films do have an influence
on today's society. From watching today's "black TV", the actors on
these shows make fun of these images. Recently, Martin Lawrence made fun of one
of his friends; calling him a "spear-thrower" on his hit TV show. The
larger problem that Malcolm X did not discuss in his speech is the result of the
"image making". The effectiveness of today's media on young minds is
great. Only several years have passed since the introduction of a Black Barbie
doll. The great action heroes are not colored but are white; only their
sidekicks are colored, e.g., Lone Ranger and Tonto. Consequently, the serious

Black actor is a precious commodity. It is the Black comedian who is more
accepted in today's society because they are able to laugh about the negative
black images. The white man, as Malcolm X might agree, would favor the comedian
over the serious actor because white men do not want to be reminded about their
"crime". The comedian often supports the negative black images that
the media has created: large lips, large buttocks, the criminal and the slave.

Eddie Murphy is famous for his Mister Robinson character on Saturday Night Live.

Robinson is a spoof on Mister Rogers; however, Robinson is a criminal. The image
of the black man as a thief continues. Television is not all to blame. The media
has made many efforts to create a more positive image of Black America. There is
a cable station, BET, targeted at black programming. The commercials shown