Disrupting Racial Myth Assignment

1) Look at the images above: Pick one of them (menacing savage/brute; the happy smiling black mammy; the hyper-sexualized black male or female, the angry black woman, the sambo baby, etc.

2) From where do you think that stereotyped image came? What time period did they start? Don’t worry if you don’t know for sure — try to make an educated guess.

3) For what specific purpose do you think those images were created? Or is there even a purpose? Why/why not?

4) Why do you think they became so popular and enjoyed by people who used them and/or (continue) to use them?

5) How did you first learn about that stereotype that you chose in #1?

6) How have you seen that stereotyped image circulating today if at all? If not, are there other types of racist iconography or photos you’ve seen in our modern context? Describe in detail. Copy and paste a picture or example. If you believe that stereotype has been eradicated, explain why you think it has left our society?


Directions: Fill in this worksheet as you watch the film. (Transcript is attached in pdf at the bottom)

You are required to turn this in for this assignment: As you view the film, take notes on the following 19th century stereotypes about African-Americans. What are the qualities of each stereotype and to whom do they apply? As you watch, listen to the documentary analyze each of the following stereotypical characters.

You’ll be discussing two off them in Step III of this worksheet.






Jack Coon


Black Rambo type

1. How were enslaved Black people portrayed for White audiences? What kinds of specific characters were used in popular American culture?

2. How were freed Blacks in the North portrayed? (Which caricature was used to describe them?

3. Which stereotypical images were used to justify racial violence against Blacks during the Reconstruction period (after slavery was abolished)? ___________. How does the documentary explain why these images were used in this period: ________________________________________.

4. Which stereotypes were used to portray Black people as savages or unworthy of freedom and also helped those with White supremacist ideals structure their feelings of nostalgia for the days when enslaved people were “more grateful?” ________________ How does the documentary explain why these images were used in this period:

5. Which were the prevailing stereotypes and caricatures used to portray Black people during the Civil Rights era? ________________. How does the documentary explain why these images were used in this period:

6. How did businesses profit from these social stereotypes? Give an example from the documentary. 7. How did cartoons circulate racial caricatures? Give an example from the documentary.

8. How did these racial stereotypes contribute to a system of oppression and inequality?

9. Why did people, including some African-Americans, start to believe that African-Americans fit these social stereotypes?

Step 3: Now look at the list of stereotyped caricatures at top of this worksheet. Choose two that you think have had the most long-lasting impact in this country and discuss how and why. Your response should be about one paragraph long.

Step 4: Write a short analysis of 350-500 words in which you reflect on your experience of watching this film and how it might have dispelled what you thought you knew about these caricatures. You can consider using these prompts to help you with this section:

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