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Media images of Africa and African Americans' attitudes toward Africa

Ekra Miezan, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This research project has embarked upon the investigation of the representation of Africa in the media and its impact on the way African American perceive Africa and identify with it. Findings from this investigation indicate that not only is Africa consistently represented negatively (with a colonial metaphor) in the media, but such a representation is ideologically embedded in the manner the African continent and its denizens have been portrayed in the West for centuries. This representation of Africa with the colonial metaphor projects the continent and its denizens into the evolutionary past. That is, Africa is a place of primitivism where civilization has eluded humanity, and where crises fester day in day out. In a second disquisition, findings from this investigation project subsequently reveal that television exposure has a negative influence on how African Americans perceive Africa and identify with it. Explicitly, the more African Americans watch television, the more they have a negative perception of Africa, and the less they identify with it (Africa). African Americans' level of education is another contributing, significant factor to their perceptions of, and identification with, Africa. The less African Americans are educated, the more they perceived Africa negatively, and the less they identify with Africa. The association between perceptions of, and identification with, Africa is an indication that media (particularly television) representation of Africa can thwart the building of coalition between continental Africans and African Americans (diasporan Africans in America).

Subject Area

Mass communications|Black studies|Geography|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Miezan, Ekra, "Media images of Africa and African Americans' attitudes toward Africa" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9960774.