Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Masters of Arts in American Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Miriam Brown Spiers

Second Advisor

Katharine Schaab


The focus of this thesis largely discusses the perceptions held by White people of Black people and the Black community, and how these discriminatory perceptions have been presented in various forms of consumable media and other societal aspects throughout American history. These racially biased misrepresentations have also negatively affected the progression and internalization of the concept of Black cultural identities for Black people throughout history and how they are able to relate to the rest of American society. I am arguing that contemporary media and films produced by Black creators, such as Cord Jefferson’s 2023 film American Fiction, tend to utilize satire and cultural humor to challenge the reinforcement of white discriminatory perspectives and deflect from inaccurate racial stigmatizations commonly seen within mainstream American media. Current scholarship on this topic typically analyzes Black stories from a victimized or underprivileged perspective. I plan to contribute to the discussion of how the emergence of Black stories told from Black perspectives has positively impacted the mental and sociocultural conditions of Black individuals and has thus prompted a shift in the ways that Blackness has historically been depicted in the media. My goal is to provide information on the origins of Black racially stigmatized representations in the media and how they have impacted the psyche of Black Americans, while also showcasing how evolutionary progressions in racial storytelling have been made regarding the authentically accurate media portrayals of Black people within the United States.