The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been very influential over the last hundred years in paving the way for minorities and fighting for social justice and reform. Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the oldest and most recognized civil rights organization today. Throughout our history blacks have been mistreated and often the victims of heinous crimes such as violent beatings and even lynching. This civil rights organization was formed in an attempt to reduce and hopefully abolish the negative treatment and discrimination of African American individuals. As a grassroots organization, it was initially difficult for the leaders of the NAACP to find support but as time progressed and treatment grew worse for African Americans the organization grew stronger and larger.
One of the early establishments of the NAACP was a magazine founded by the late W. E. B. Du Bois, The Crisis magazine (NAACP, 2016), this magazine served as a voice for those hoping to improve civil rights for minorities. Another major goal of the NAACP was to establish branches throughout the country; in 1913 branches were established in Boston, Maryland, Kansas City, Washington, Detroit, and St Louis (NAACP, 2016). As time progressed, members of the NAACP successfully fought many legal battles to improve the well-being of African Americans and abolish lynching. During the Civil Rights Era, the NAACP had grown tremendously and led our country in fighting for rights for African Americans. Although many victories were won during this time such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the Civil Rights Acts, violence against blacks still occurred. Still today the NAACP fights tirelessly to promote the fair treatment and representation of minorities.
As we move forward the NAACP is becoming more innovative in promoting social justice and reform. To address the problem of African Americans being negatively stereotyped in the media, the NAACP established the Hollywood Bureau (NAACP, 2016). The Bureau is charged with holding networks and executives accountable for diversity within television shows and advocates for the hiring of more minorities in media companies (NAACP, 2016). The launching of the Bureau grew out of the fact that minorities were either underrepresented in the media or depicted as ignorant, violent, or crooked. To address this problem the Bureau monitors the media and meets with movie studios, networks, and directors to encourage more diverse programs. The Hollywood Bureau has also established the NAACP Image Award to honor people of color within the media; this award was first presented in 1967 (NAACP, 2016) and still persists today. Outside of the Bureau, the NAACP also provides minority students with scholarships to attend colleges and university, which could also be viewed as a tactic to reduce the negative portrayal of African Americans within the media, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
The intervention strategies used by the Hollywood Bureau is consistent with the community coalition’s approach to dealing with social problems. This coalition involves diverse members from the NAACP as well as network executives, movie directors, and labors unions in an attempt to promote more diverse programming and employment of monitories in the entertainment industry (NAACP, 2016). One of the major disadvantages of the coalition is that non-NAACP members may not have a voice in these meeting with media representatives; an advantage of this coalition is the issue of racial discrimination within the media is being addressed, collaboration is being accepted, and actions have been taken to reduce this issue. Moreover, the Bureaus Image Award is a great way to encourage more positive images of African Americans that have done exceptionally well in television, music, and literature. The annual Image Award can be compared to the consciousness raising technique; through this medium, viewers are made aware of critical issues and accomplishments of minorities in the entertainment industry. A major disadvantage of this approach is that viewers can pick and choose which television shows they watch and some may neglect to watch this award show because it goes directly against their perceptions of African Americans. As a student of psychology, I’ve come to understand that individuals do what ever it takes to confirm negative biases and stereotypes and deny more positive images that go against their biases. I believe that the approaches of this organization are consistent with the strategies in community psychology because they promote citizen involvement, plans are devised to accomplish very specific goals, audience members are made aware of pressing issues and the need for growth, relationships are strengthened between minorities and individuals in the entertainment industry, and different techniques are utilized to promote social change.
Overall, the NAACPs Hollywood Bureau is doing a great job of holding the entertainment industry accountable for the proper representation and employment of minorities. Bringing community members together with entertainment executives is an effective way to discuss black images and stereotypes perpetuated by the media. While I am a supporter of the organizations techniques, I believe that more could be done to improve this social issue. Moving forward, I would like to see more African Americans in leadership positions within entertainment organizations and a wider variety of television shows that promote positive images of African Americans.
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