Dr. Jared Ball: African- Americans in the media


On Feb. 27, in N-201, Dr. Jared Ball gave a talk on the ideologies present on African-American communities in the films Django and Lincoln.

Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University.

The Black Student Union sponsored this final talk in honor of Black History Month.

Based on his observations of both facts and media representations, Ball doesn’t believe that the African-American population is free yet. He believes that films like Django and Lincoln are intentionally created to make it appear that struggles have been overcome and are used as a means to justify the moment.

Sharing the facts, Ball states that the African-American community still faces the longest term unemployment rates since 1948, have the same one tenth of the nation’s wealth as in 1860 and that there are more black people in prisons than were held as slaves in 1860.

Ball  observed that both Django and Lincoln failed to portray Fredrick Douglass.

In observation of the films it is an ideology that would state people of color did not fight for their rights, that it was mostly a struggle between “nice white people against less nice white people.” His observation of the films came to the conclusion that the enslaved population did not seek to fight for the rights and that those who did were deemed an exception.

This is factually incorrect since rebellion and retaliation against slavery began even before reaching the shores of America. Resistance was evident on slave ships and often instigated by women, who were given more freedom to move around the ships.

“In part we’re not meant to see black people involved in their own liberation struggles on their own terms. […] History has been omitted from the beginning to today,” said Ball.

According to Ball, this portrayal of ‘no resistance’ that the media seeks to create also creates an ideology of African-Americans being deserving of the obstacles they come across. With this comes the mentality that these communities do not really belong to themselves.

“In enslavement, a black child didn’t belong to their parents, they were the property of their white owners. You are not a human being, you are not connected to your parents—you are socially dead. To this day it is used to justify the continued oppression of black people,” said Ball.

When general observations of the black community condition are made, Ball proclaimed that they are a comparison to the gross errors inflicted during enslavement. This cannot be a fair comparison as enslavement is not a standard for society to conclude the well-being of any community.

Ball stated there is an ongoing struggle that the black community must overcome, and that it is mostly a battle of awareness of a real condition