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Gendered Experiences of Racism - Essay Example

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The short film A Girl Like Me (Davis, 2011) deals with the experiences that many contemporary young African American women have in relation to their own body image. Through interviews and an experiment involving children choosing and rating black and white dolls, it is shown…
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Gendered Experiences of Racism
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Gendered Experiences of Racism

Racism is translated into a concept of beauty and self-image because of the use of stereotypes in the media which promote particular styles and shapes in a positive way, and relegate other shapes to a lower position. Thinness, for example, is seen as a desirable quality, while girls who are heavier are often portrayed as problem characters. African American physical shapes can come in all forms, some of them larger than others, The promstion of Barbie-doll like figures to black and white children alike, creates an unachievable ideal for both, but the distance between real bodies and the dolls is greater for black girls than for white girls. In addition to the issue of shape, African American girls often also have curly or nappy hair, and darker skin, both of which are qualities which traditional American culture sees as negative. This is a relic of race prejudice that stems from the time of slavery and even though the practice of slavery has stopped, the unconscious assumptions and prejudices associated with it can linger on into the present.
African American culture has been affected by the diaspora from Africa, and this affects the self-esteem of black young people more than white ones. In the film one speaker speaks of the loss that occurs when someone does not know even the exact country of his or her heritage. Africa is a big continent, and the diversity of it is lost in this enforced ingnorance. White girls, in contrast, can enjoy exploring their British, Italian, Swedish, Jewish, or any number of other cultural identities which can be traced back, but African American girls cannot do this in the same way. In relation to boys, there is a lot of suppressed resentment and aggravation in the African American community, and this can be expressed sometimes in demonstrations of misogyny and disrespect, because there is ... Read More
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