A History of Black Stereotypes Onscreen

The grotesque racist caricatures that were used to justify slavery and the systemic mistreatment of black people found their way into our earliest blockbuster movies, and they remained popular onscreen for decades. In large part, this is because—while black characters have always been a part of American films—black filmmakers and performers tended to be excluded from their creation. If we look closer, many caricatures like the Mammy, Uncle Tom, Sapphire, Jezebel, and Magical Negro have persevered, in some form, to this day across our modern films and TV. Here’s The Take on the history of black stereotypes on screen and how they still influence our society—more than you might think.

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