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Tim Reid and Tony Burton in Frank's Place (CBS). Although critically acclaimed for its representation ofAfrican Americans in an urban community, CBS canceled the series after one season--14 September 1987 to 17 March 1988. FUm & History, Vol. XXI, Nos. 2 & 3, May/September 199165 Cultural Diversity in American Media History Jannette L. Dates Unlike many other textbooks of the period, the books written by Erik Barnouw that became classic references for communications scholars included information about African American participation in the media. Examples that come to mind include his discussions in Tube of Plenty1 of the works of African Americans such as Sidney Poitier in "Philco TV Playhouse," Cicely Tyson in "East Side, West Side," and the short-lived "Nat 'King' Cole Show" of 1956. I became aware of his pattern of including people of color, while others excluded such references, as I taught courses in the Department of Radio, Television and Film in the School of Communications at Howard University. Because many other textbooks did not include African American participants in histories of media industries, I located such information for my courses, and began to weave threads of black media history into my lectures. When my colleagues and I realized that many of us were adding similar information to the base of knowledge for our students, we began to envision ways of more effectively addressing this issue and disseminating information. Split Image: African Americans in the Mass Media is the result of that effort.2 Split Image is a historical, comparative analysis that develops the theme of "a war of images" as a mechanism to help encourage understanding of how and why the mass media evolved as they did with respect to African American citizens. We argue that majority rule unconsciously carries with it the threat of domination and therefore the tendency for people to endorse the status quo. In America, white domination gave rise to African American cultural resistance, splitting the black image. In this regard, on the one hand there were the numerous white developed images of black people, while on the other hand there were the self-developed images that some African Americans managed to maneuver past the white male gatekeepers, who consistently attempted to block images that were not a part of their own experience. Split Image is designed to help African Americans in reclaiming their historical identity and to encourage all image makers to develop and show respect for the multiracial, multicultural society that will characterize 21st Century America. Educators are on the cutting edge of helping future generations in the development of this respect across racial and cultural divides. Our book may assist in that process. It teaches African Americans to understand their place in history, especially media history, !annette L. Dates is a Fellow at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University, and currently on a leave of absence as Associate Dean in the School of Communications at Howard University. 66 !annette L. Dates and to understand their racial predecessors in media industries. It also helps white youngsters understand why and how media have evolved as they have towards African Americans, as it assists in the realization that the perceptions history books have generated about contributors to the growth and development of America need to be reviewed. Textbooks, such as this one, may help students better understand the issue surrounding the increasing concern about the development of multiculturally focused studies. We argue that African American responses to white domination included accommodation, resistance and combinations of the two responses, sometimes used in the development of alternatives. White exploitation of African American cultural products included the expropriation of new creations by African Americans, which were diluted and trivialized for mass consumption. The intellectual focus of Split Image was developed from the works of W.E.B. Du Bois who discussed the cultural legacy of the problem of the color line, which he prophesied would be the problem to dominate the planet for one hundred years. Du Bois talked about the peculiar sensation in which the African Americans always lives, of "seeing oneself through the eyes of others," and "measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 64-70
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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