What Is The Function Of Racist Stereotype In Blackface Minstrelsy?

1193 words - 5 pages

Blackface minstrelsy became a popular form of entertainment in the early nineteenth century. Predominately, minstrel shows were performed to crowds of white working class men, by white actors who would use burnt cork, or shoe polish to blacken their skin and would create racist stereotyped characters of black people. These characters functioned to instill conceptions of white superiority into popular culture whilst at the same time oppressing black society. The characters invented were often portrayed as childlike, unintelligent and dependent on the civilisation of white society in the form of slavery. By examining the changes that minstrelsy underwent during the nineteenth century, the function that the racist stereotypes performed will become evident.

Blackface minstrelsy was an established nineteenth century form of onstage entertainment most popular in the northern states of America which intentionally created exaggerated stereotypes of black people for prominently white working class male audiences . White performers would blacken their faces with burnt cork or black grease and perform skits, songs and dances and act out their image of black people. Rather than present an accurate depiction of African Americans and authentic portrayals of the qualities of ‘negro’ life, minstrelsy reflected the ideas and conceptions of white society . The content of the shows however was altered to create images of blacks and slaves that suited white northern public opinion . White actors now had the opportunity to manipulate black identity and reinforce notions of white superiority, and by portraying blacks as uncivilised it reinforced the need for slavery. This white produced black identity served to reinforce racial differences, and allowed white performers to make money from blackness . The performers of the blackface have been described as “the filthy scum of white society, who have stolen from us a complexion denied to them by nature, in which to make money ... ” It is evident from this that blackness was reduced to a cultural commodity; one available to the white man, and a way to maintain social dominance.

In addition as minstrelsy being used a means of control it also dealt with the fear of change. Slavery was outlawed in the northern states from 1804, and in the southern states from 1863. Anxieties grew in the south from 1833 with the founding of the American Anti-Slavery Society because slavery was essential to southern economy and fear that freeing of the slaves could cause economic collapse. White performers capitalised on this and, using the facade of the black mask could be free from the restraints of white society and were able to criticise social conventions, including abolition . White society also feared slave rebellion , in an attempt to depress this fear the character of ‘Sambo’ was constructed. Portrayed as a “white-toothed, dehumanized buffoon, impervious to pain, incapable of anger – a harmless empty-headed figure of fun. ” This...

Find Another Essay On What is the function of racist stereotype in Blackface Minstrelsy?

Is the Heart of Darkness Racist?

852 words - 3 pages story is also centered in the heart of Africa, but this time, from the African's point of view. The story Heart of Darkness can be viewed in many different ways, but in Achebe's Criticisms of Heart of Darkness, it is clearly portrayed that Heart of Darkness is a racist and biased book.Furthermore, Conrad's diction makes a big impact on what Achebe's criticisms lean towards. When describing the Africans, he used very negative context. "... What


3239 words - 13 pages real death of a young girl.The Inspector?s function is to make the characters realise that they have all taken part in the suicide of Eva Smith. All the members of the family go from hubris to nemesis. The Inspector arrives at the height of the Birlings? self-righteousness and opulence and leaves everyone one in shock and amazement over what has happened in the last few hours. Eric is now upset because he has lost his son. Sheila and Gerald are

This is an essay about what the gothix stereotype is and also how the media has affected the gothic stereotype

1498 words - 6 pages musical tastes exist as well. Not all music is "Goth," there is a huge 80's following in the scene as well. The fashion varies vastly from Goth to the traditional Victorian style garments to the buckled and studded style regalia.Many people hear about the gothic stereotype. However, what exactly does this stereotype entail? According to the typical stereotype, the people of the Gothic community are:1. Hates happy things2. Enjoys Marilyn Manson3

The Use of Racial Stereotype in Cinema

2003 words - 8 pages Cheyenne still remain a strong and vigilant people, as one can see in the character of Old Lodge Skins, a visionary who is a strong leader to both the Cheyenne and Jack Crabb. Many customs and traditions are also demonstrated in detail within the film, an aspect of Native American culture which is rarely seen in earlier Westerns. All this visually explicit detail allows the audience to sympathize with the Cheyenne, and better understand what it

The Essential Role Of Stereotype In Propaganda

1316 words - 5 pages The Essential Role Of Stereotype In Propaganda People encounter propaganda and stereotypes in their daily lifestyle from social interaction with peers to family and the media. Propaganda and stereotype are correlative; however their conceptual fundaments are different. Propaganda is a systematic manipulation of public opinion that is consciously disseminated to promote a doctrine or cause. Contemporary propaganda deliberately attempts to

Conrad v. Achebe: Is Conrad a racist in The Heart of Darkness?

1712 words - 7 pages literature, and although it is usually overlooked, it is impossible to begin studying Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness without stumbling upon Chinua Achebe's An Image of Africa. In his article, Achebe asserts that Conrad "was a thoroughgoing racist" and uses references to the text in conjunction with his own commentary to prove this thesis. Conrad's text may not be immortalized as the most politically-correct text of the century, but one must

Explore how Charles Dickens presents Miss Havisham in chapter 8 and what the function of her character is

1393 words - 6 pages grammar school and he was forced to work at a blacking factory which is where they made shoe polish. Dickens had to go live with his dad in prison and eventually his family and dickens after a lot of work paid off the bankruptcy. Dickens father was then freed. Dickens now knew what it felt like to be imprisoned and also witnessed the last public execution and saw people dying. He expressed all of this in the novels that he wrote. Miss Havisham`s

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Not a Racist Book

663 words - 3 pages that the accusation of this novel being racist is ridiculous. Huck Finn was abused by his father all throughout his childhood. He lived in constant fear of his surroundings and didn’t lead an exactly normal life. When he finally decides to get out of his predicament and stages his own death, he meets up with Jim on Jackson’s island. As Jim’s quest for freedom and a better life continues he and Huck become closer. Huck’s conscience is leading

Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the Historical

1851 words - 7 pages Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the Historical Notes and how do they assist your interpretation of the novel? The historical notes are not part of Offred’s narrative, they are a transcript of a symposium held at a university in 2195 – two hundred years from where we left the end of Offred’s harrowing tale. The purpose of these notes if any, is to put Offred’s narrative into a historical purpose to help these

The Stereotype of Criminally Disposed People in Poverty

788 words - 3 pages them what they know and bring that to America. Not all poor communities consist of violence and murder. Just because a community is poor does not mean they are corrupted with violence. Because of the decreased rate in unemployment many people, as a result are unable to be financially unstable. Also many successful people have come from poor communities. Many people used their personal struggles and their environment to give the motivation they

What sort of man is Walton? 1) Does he serve any thematic function in the novel or is he included largely as a ‘storyteller’.  That is, is he inc

896 words - 4 pages was younger, how once a story is told it is passed on with less of the original tale. Walton is used as a ‘storyteller’ within the novel, passing one story onto his sister and the reader, though he does serve a purpose as the character who sees wrong in what he is doing, contrasting with the other two protagonists. Walton is also the neutral approach towards the whole tale, providing the story with a ‘filter’ to remove Victor’s opinions and

Similar Essays

What Is The Function Of Educating Individuals In Capitalist Society?

2576 words - 10 pages What exactly is the function of educating individuals in our capitalist society? Are we really educated individually, or is the system there simply to churn out a workforce to meet our society's growing needs? I plan to look at the views of this matter from different sociologists' perspectives, and examine the ideas behind the function of education - whether it really is a fair an just system, offering us all the chance to succeed, regardless of

The Effects Of Minstrelsy On American Literature

1102 words - 4 pages culture, as well as created a very negative caricature of blacks during the time. Jim neglects the stereotype of the happy-go-lucky "Sambo" by running away from his master to obtain freedom, yet he also does not represent the "dandified coon," as he is fairly intelligent, selfless, and kind-hearted in all of his actions. Thus, as the growing popularity of minstrel shows continued and spread its influence among American culture, Mark Twain's depiction of Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn offers a rejection of the blackface portrayals of minstrelsy. Works Cited Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print.

What Is The Function Of The Sign At Cana In John 2:1 12?

7053 words - 28 pages The Function of the "Sign at Cana" in John. 2:1-12In the Gospel of John, John writes about the seven "signs" that Jesus preformed for the duration of his public ministry. John uses the seven signs to lead up to the climax of Book III, "The Book of Glory". John additionally uses the "signs" to construct his bases for establishing Jesus is the Messiah, the Only Son of God. He ingeniously selected these particular seven signs to do this and

What Is The Significance And Function Of Phonological Rules In Language?

1058 words - 4 pages What is the significance/function of phonological rules in language? Illustrate your answer with reference to three such rules (in English or any language you are familiar with), and give examples of how each rule operates. (968 words)INTRODUCTIONPhonological rules are a system of writing, using formal notation, which allows linguists to express how to pronounce speech phonetically. Phonological rules are part of every speaker's linguistic