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Black and white, male and female: Racial and Gender Differences in Adolescents' TV Diets
Unformatted Document Text:  Black and White 8 initially featured predominantly Black shows such as In Living Color, The Steve Harvey Show, and the multiracial 21 Jump Street that drew the Black audience, but today only UPN continues to feature prime time shows with primarily Black casts (Freeman, 2001). Even back in the 1980s when there were far fewer portrayals of Blacks on television, it was clear that Black audiences favored shows featuring Black characters or all Black casts (Dates, 1980; Eastman & Liss, 1980). Black adolescents also reported greater levels of identification with Black rather than White characters (Greenberg & Atkin, 1982). In a recent study of 200 Black urban adolescent girls, Edwards (2001) found strong preferences for Black television programming and preferences for characters who looked like them and had lifestyles they admired. Since the recent studies of gender differentiation in television program preferences were conducted without simultaneously considering racial differences, and most of the research on racial differences in television viewing preferences and motivations was conducted before the proliferation of demographically segmented channels, it is valuable to look now at how the social identities of age, race and gender intersect to affect television programming preferences. Has the burgeoning of cable channels designed especially for young Black audiences and young White audiences and shows designed to appeal to girls and/or boys resulted in a segregated television world? Do Blacks and White males and females watch different television programs? Method Sample Students from three public school districts in the Southeastern United States that included urban, suburban, and rural populations and approximately equal proportions of Black and White male and female students were recruited to participate in a study of 7 th and 8 th graders’ media use. Fourteen of the sixteen eligible middle schools agreed to be involved. Students were recruited over an eight-week period in Fall 2001 by going to the schools and asking students to fill out address

Authors: Brown, Jane. and Pardun, Carol J.
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Black and White
8
initially featured predominantly Black shows such as In Living Color, The Steve Harvey Show, and
the multiracial 21 Jump Street that drew the Black audience, but today only UPN continues to
feature prime time shows with primarily Black casts (Freeman, 2001).
Even back in the 1980s when there were far fewer portrayals of Blacks on television, it was
clear that Black audiences favored shows featuring Black characters or all Black casts (Dates,
1980; Eastman & Liss, 1980). Black adolescents also reported greater levels of identification with
Black rather than White characters (Greenberg & Atkin, 1982). In a recent study of 200 Black
urban adolescent girls, Edwards (2001) found strong preferences for Black television programming
and preferences for characters who looked like them and had lifestyles they admired.
Since the recent studies of gender differentiation in television program preferences were
conducted without simultaneously considering racial differences, and most of the research on racial
differences in television viewing preferences and motivations was conducted before the
proliferation of demographically segmented channels, it is valuable to look now at how the social
identities of age, race and gender intersect to affect television programming preferences. Has the
burgeoning of cable channels designed especially for young Black audiences and young White
audiences and shows designed to appeal to girls and/or boys resulted in a segregated television
world? Do Blacks and White males and females watch different television programs?
Method
Sample
Students from three public school districts in the Southeastern United States that included
urban, suburban, and rural populations and approximately equal proportions of Black and White
male and female students were recruited to participate in a study of 7
th
and 8
th
graders’ media use.
Fourteen of the sixteen eligible middle schools agreed to be involved. Students were recruited over
an eight-week period in Fall 2001 by going to the schools and asking students to fill out address


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