Racial Imagery

The power of imagery is one of the aspects of Eurocentric hegemony. The TV media skillfully incorporates images and language to force one’s imagination to exploit and cement cultural biases. For example, the Associated Press (AP) showed Africans during the devastating Katrina induced flooding and labelled them looters (which they were, but in a flood, were they to let good food get soggy?). When Europeans were shown doing the same, the language changed: the Agence France-Presse (AFP) stated that they simply found food floating about (that they didn’t pay for of course). This combination of negative language and image for Africans forces a person to recall and validate long held stereotypes. The ruminations in the brain of someone (including those of African descent) reading the AP description go like this:

  • Those Africans always want a free lunch;
  • They don’t want to work for what they have; thus
  • They will break into private property when it suits their desires; because
  • That’s natural for them, it’s coded into their DNA;
  • They so often behave like animals; but
  • What can you expect of them [shakes head].

Source: Snopes.com

Note that all of the six points mentioned above may be mentally incurred with only one word (visually linked to a picture) which in this case was “looting.”

DYNAMIC: Change starts with recognition of systems which impact you personally. The media will not change even after years of logical appeals. The burden then is on the individual to recognize and actively fight ingrown prejudices.


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