The "Uncle Tom," the "Mammy" and the "pickaninnies" are all racial stereotypes commonly used from the pre-Civil War era until the start of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The Emmy-winning documentary "Ethnic Notions" directed by the late Marlon Riggs examines these and more anti-Black stereotypes that permeated popular culture and were perpetuated by mass media.
The Luther College Diversity Center is sponsoring a showing of the documentary at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, in the Mott Borlaug Room on the first floor of Dahl Centennial Union on the Luther campus. Novian Whitsitt, Luther professor of Africana studies and English, will facilitate a discussion following the screening. Both the film and the discussion are open to the public with no charge for admission.
The event is intended to provide context before the "Hateful Things" exhibit, which opens Feb. 12, 2018, on the Luther campus. "Hateful Things" will bring to campus relics from Ferris State University's Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The anti-Black, racist pieces are accompanied by panels explaining their historical and cultural significance.
"Ethnic Notions" is a 1987 documentary that shows the stereotypes depicted of the African American community and the impact the mass media had on perpetrating the stereotypes. It uses cartoons, films, songs, advertisements, children's rhymes and other memorabilia to show how the stereotypes were characterized and the consequences those depictions had. The film was directed by Marlon Riggs with narration by Esther Rolle. It went on to win an Emmy for Best Documentary.
Whitsitt joined the Luther faculty in 1999. He holds a master's degree in Africana Studies from UCLA, and master's and doctoral degrees in African languages and literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most recently, Whitsitt's research has focused on African-American slave narratives, the constructions of black womanhood by female slaves and gendered dimensions of slave agency.
A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.