2008.10.10 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Relations
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Discussion on Media Depictions of America's Blacks Set for Oct. 16
Omaha - The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Department of Black Studies and UNO Television will welcome Emmy award nominee Meshach Taylor for the screening of the documentary "Ethnic Notions."
The Thursday, Oct. 16, event begins at 6 p.m. at UNO's Eppley Auditorium, inside the Eppley Administration Building. Taylor will lead a discussion following the screening of the Emmy-winning documentary, which was directed by Marlon Riggs.
"Ethnic Notions" takes viewers on a voyage through American history, tracing for the first time the deep-rooted stereotypes that fueled anti-black prejudice and white racism.
"Through these images we can begin to understand the evolution of racial consciousness in America," said Omowale Akintunde, chair of the Department of Black Studies.
Caricatures shown and discussed in the film include "loyal toms, carefree Sambos, faithful mammies, grinning Coons, savage Brutes and wide-eyed Pickaninnies," according to Riggs.
Following the screening of "Ethnic Notions" will be an episode of "Designing Women," which deals with institutionalized racism and stars Taylor. Taylor will then lead the audience and a specially convened panel in a discussion deconstructing the impact of white racist media on the perceptions of blacks in American society.
While at UNO, Taylor will also speak to master classes with students in the television department.
Akintunde added: "Whiteness theory is particularly important since white cultural norms are systemically enforced, usually without any recognition that they are ‘white' norms. We must move beyond seeing racism as an individualist phenomenon and progress to understand that racism is a systemic and institutionalized manifestation that privileges the dominant racial group."
The Oct. 16 event featuring "Ethnic Notions" and Taylor is part of "What it Means to be ‘White': Implications for Media Depictions of Blacks in America," a new documentary and discussion series hosted by UNO's Department of Black Studies.
Taylor, who appeared for seven seasons on "Designing Women," is a Boston native who was raised in New Orleans and Indianapolis. He studied drama at Ohio's Wilmington College and Florida A&M University.
UNO will celebrate its 100th anniversary beginning October 8, 2008. This celebration will recognize the partnership among the City of Omaha, its citizens and UNO to build a vibrant and dynamic community. The centennial theme is “UNO: Central To Our City Since 1908.” This theme acknowledges the past contributions of UNO to the community and sets the stage for great things to come.
UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908. For Centennial information, go to http://www.unomaha.edu/100/.
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