Messages in the Medium: The Relationships Among Black Media Images, Racial Identity, Body Image, and the Racial Socialization of Black Youth

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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African American
Media Socialization
Racial Socialization
Racial Identity
Identity Development
Developmental Psychology
Other Psychology
Social Psychology
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Despite modest research relating racism and media (Tynes & Ward, 2009; Ward, 2004), how Black youth interpret negative stereotype images of Black people promulgated in the media has not adequately been explored. This dissertation study examines the relationships among exposure to Black media images, racial identity, racial socialization, body image and self-esteem for 14- to 21-year-old Black youth. Focus groups were administered to learn about how Black youth interpret Black media images and whether they could identify negative stereotype messages. Next, survey data was collected to pilot the Black Media Messages Questionnaire and to examine the relationships among Black media images, racial identity, racial socialization, body image and self-esteem scores of Black youth. Confirmatory factor analysis of the BMMQ revealed a 3 scale (Black Media Message Belief, Black Media Message TV Frequency and Black Media Message Magazine Frequency) six-factor solution. The BMMQ factors were found to have significant correlations with age, body image, Black History Knowledge, racial identity and racial/ethnic (R/E) socialization. Although there were few significant ANOVA findings for racial/ethnic socialization MANOVA analyses resulted in significant relationships among age, gender, R/E coping and R/E stereotypical socialization. A four cluster racial identity solution resulted in distinct profiles that were found to have significant interactions with gender, age, body image, Black history knowledge, endorsement of negative stereotype media messages and racial ideology scores. The findings suggest racial identity, racial socialization and Black History knowledge play a role in whether Black youth identify and endorse stereotypical media images of Black people.

Howard C. Stevenson Jr.
Diana Slaughter-Defoe
Sonja Peterson-Lewis
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