Tara R. Jiles


In our society the media has presented itself as an important tool in shaping both the identities of groups and individuals. In film, and possibly more deeply in African American films, the prolonged emotional and multi-sensoral experience heightens this importance. In America, there has been a historical presence of stereotypical characters in Black film and television shows as early as the 1800s. My assertion is that African Americans who are exposed to media images with stereotypical African American characters are affected negatively in psychological and social respects. The impacts include but are not limited to self esteem issues, poor identity development, negative social perceptions from non-Black groups, and a diminishing of confidence in Black capabilities (e.g. professionalism, intelligence etc.). In addition, it is my assertion that African Americans can take control of stereotypical images in the media through the development of independent film projects. There is a hunger for palatable portrayals of African Americans, and the presence or absence of such portrayals is experienced severely by African American viewers. This research will take a historical look at stereotypical images, the difference in content when examining commercial and independent film releases, and the motivations of Black independent filmmakers to change the landscape of Black film.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; African Americans in motion pictures; Stereotypes (Social psychology) in motion pictures; African Americans in the motion picture industry

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

DellaNeve, James;