Progress in Black Visibility and Success (07:17)
Reverend Jesse Jackson's success in the presidential race showed that a black person could become a major leader. By being herself and talking about common personal issues on TV, Oprah Winfrey broke a racial boundary and connected to white and black audiences. Donna Brazile argues that increasing positive images of black people has led to a changing mentality about race.
Black Enterprise and Economic Racism (07:43)
In the 1980s, the market seemed open to black investment, and Robert Johnson explains that his success in creating Black Entertainment Television proved that investing in black talent was worthwhile. Cornel West argues that this was a small part of black America, and many were suffering from Reagan cutbacks and unemployment. Ronald Day experienced entrenched poverty in the South Bronx, where the only path to success he saw was in dealing drugs.
Racism of the War on Drugs (08:07)
Black communities affected by the violence of the drug trade advocated for policing and positive social programs, but their voices were overshadowed by sensational media associating crack and crime with black people. The government initiated a campaign against the drug trade which criminalized black men and subjected them to disproportionately harsher punishment than white people. Black people responded to the brutality and injustice with hip-hop that addressed the political and economic issues.
Controversy of Gangster Rap (04:09)
Some hip-hop presented a misogynist, violent world which reinforced black stereotypes; many black people denounced it. James Peterson argues that this kind of music sold well because there is an economy based on the criminalization of black men. In the 1990s, inner-city poverty worsened as a debate arose about the role of government in poverty alleviation.
Political Debate and Black Conservatism (07:32)
In 1991, Thurgood Marshall retired from the Supreme Court, and the president nominated Clarence Thomas to be Justice. His position against welfare and social programs antagonized many black people and organizations. When Anita Hill accused him of sexual assault, a debate arose about his integrity, but he asserted his male privilege and was confirmed.
Police Brutality and Racial Divide (05:50)
As the government showed less support for affirmative action and social welfare, it implied that social problems were a result of individual choice and behavior. The police beating of Rodney King in 1991 publicly exposed systematic racism. When the court acquitted the perpetrators, riots broke out in Los Angeles; varying views of the destruction conveyed the difference between black and white realities.
OJ Simpson Trial (04:27)
The arrest and subsequent trial of OJ Simpson for murder led to a major test of the American criminal justice system. Detective Mark Fuhrman was accused of planting evidence and many black people believed Simpson was framed and there was no possibility of a fair trial. When he was found not guilty, the racially divided response reflected a larger difference in perception in the country.
Cultural and Economic Effects of Clinton Era (05:34)
When elected, Bill Clinton appointed many black people to high positions, and supported black culture and the black middle class. He had no solution for poor black communities and perpetuated the ideology that people are responsible for their economic condition. Clinton signed crime legislation that funded more police and prisons, leading to an exponential increase in incarcerated black men.
Million Man March (04:41)
In 1995, black men marched on the National Mall to heal misrepresentations of black men and show unity, dignity, and commitment to family and community. Speeches shared themes of atonement and personal responsibility rather than focusing on systemic racism.
Credits: Keep Your Head Up (Part 3) (01:16)
Credits: Keep Your Head Up (Part 3)
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