Essay Example on Ethnic Notion: Uncovering Racism and Dehumanization in America

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  589 Words
Date:  2023-01-11

The ethnic notion is a winning documentary by Emmy directed by Marlon Riggs. This documentary brings out the typical caricature of black people and the story of their creation. The film dramatically deals with how Africans and black Americans were dehumanized in America where funny images of them got to surface America and were made fun of. These images were then used in the arguments of pro-slavery that later led to civil war. This act symbolized racism by the whites. Racism is the act of discriminating another person based on the color of their skin. The people practicing racism think and view themselves as being superior and better than the other group. Racism is well illustrated in Emmy winning documentary which explains where and how it began in America and the creation of stereotypes their functions and why they vary with time and space.

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Racial caricatures of the Africans were created and produced in America to mock the African American by showing them how worthless they were. Caricature refers to the use of highly exaggerated pictures to describe a person. In the film, for example, mockery by the white is seen where they performed with their faces painted black. This led to the creation of Sambo which symbolized a care-free and a lazy person, then Zip coon, a dandy and later a buffoon. For instance, a Zip coon was made to imitate whites, but in the real sense, it was nothing but a way of mocking the black Americans due to its poor use of grammar and low intelligence. The idea of a Zip Coon generally symbolized how stupidity surfaced the African American population which is a broader view brought about the issue of racial inequality and slavery. The description and illustration of the mammy and uncle's image in the film narrowed to how useless and silly African American child was. All these portraits changed America's mindset about slavery, and they made African's to be seen as if they enjoyed slavery.

Use of these stereotypes functioned as a way of degrading Africans and reducing them to nothing. The shocking thing is that these stereotypes are still applied in the modern generation only that they try to use high technology not to be noticed. I believe that the Sambo stereotype is still in existence in our current generation through social media, televisions and in our society where a Blackman is used to symbolize an immature, silly and carefree character. Moreover, not all stereotype in our current generation depicts the 19th and the 20th-century caricatures, for instance, the description of mammies. In the earlier days, mammies were described as been unattractive with big tummies and shapeless bodies which defers with the modern generation where they are viewed as been ghetto like and un-laddish.

After going through the documentary by Emmy, I am made to think that stereotypes will never end since they are rooted in Americans culture, but in regardless to that I have a stronger belief that it can actually come to an end if the society is trained on the importance of been anti-racism and their mindset changed by referring to a black person in a more positive way.


Riggs, M., & Rolle, E. (2012). Ethnic Notions.

Kaya, A. (2005). Cultural reification in Circassian diaspora: Stereotypes, prejudices and ethnic relations. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(1), 129-149.

Solorzano, D. G. (1997). Images and words that wound: Critical race theory, racial stereotyping, and teacher education. Teacher Education Quarterly, 5-19.

Oyserman, D., Kemmelmeier, M., Fryberg, S., Brosh, H., & Hart-Johnson, T. (2003). Racial-ethnic self-schemas.

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Essay Example on Ethnic Notion: Uncovering Racism and Dehumanization in America. (2023, Jan 11). Retrieved from

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