Television and Radio Criticism

Noble. Searching For Black Girls: Shannese Charles

Shannese Charles

TVRA 4430W

Reading Response 2


The passage I read was titled “Searching for Black Girls,” by Safiya U. Noble. I think the puzzling question being addressed in the reading is whether or not the algorithm of Google is racists for depicting black girls in a negative light. In the beginning of the passage the author explains that when searching for her own race and gender, which is African American female, all that comes up are inappropriate search results.

Through her results she came to the thesis that there is a lack of employment for minorities within the media industry, especially the tech industry. The industry chooses to represent us on our behalf  and falsely perceive minorities based on what the dominant race (White) perceives us as. Rather than hiring the employees of the specified race who can instantly create and share actual relevant answers based on their experience and knowledge.

Her main points were that African American women were deemed as unintelligent, sex objects, and that we're basically at the bottom of the totem pole (status pole) when it comes to receiving love from society. She has provided evidence to these main points through her search results, typing in key theoretical concepts like “pornography,” “sex objects,” and “white girls.”  In addition she also brought to the surface the methodology of African American women in the workforce and during slavery. For example, within the pornography department Noble found out that through “long tail phrases,” of which is based on what the audience types in their search box the most, is how black women were claimed to be found in the search engine pertaining to pornography. In regards to the term “sex objects,” throughout Slavery African Americans were deemed as Jezebelles due to the fact that slave owners would rape them, sell their bodies after, and leave their wives jealous of the victim because their husband was so called “cheating,” on them. Lastly she compares black women  to white women; African American women were always unemployed in the workforce or never given a chance to prove themselves because of their appearance. Based on a search result African American hair, such as an “afro,” or “protective style,” is deemed as an inappropriate work style compared to a “french braid” or “blond highlights,” which are deemed as appropriate work styles. Reading this I really couldn’t help but wonder “who is in charge of this algorithm basically depicting their own ideology of the way they would like society to be?”

Although  the research is from the internet of which we are questioning its relevance at the moment, I would still say that Nobles facts are sufficient, credible and convincing because she went deeper into what was cyberspace rather than sticking to Google. This only shows that she is building on a couple of scholarly works, such as, Smith “It’s Just A Movie,” because she decided to go below the surface of what was given to her by the search results to find her answers. I will also say that she built on the work of Omi and Winant’s Racial Formations, which was also mentioned in the reading by agreeing and helping decipher more about black women within society, technology/media, and  the impact of racial dominance of the “white frame,” on black women from the caucasian women’s communal perspective.

I think the audience for this article would be company owners who own search engines, because they too need to learn how to make their search results cater and respect all races. I think that the audience for this article would most likely be the African American  youth because I definitely feel that they are the major group on the internet and learning everything from the Web and specifically search engines, if they are basing their opinions and life decisions solely on what they see when they receive search results from search engines, they would think they are ugly, not of importance, and their career goals would be either a stripper or a prostitute. White women are also an audience because they need to understand that we are all women at the end of the day,  they should equally feel hurt and disrespected towards the algorithms when they research African American women and find nothing that positively represents the community or an individual. Lastly black and minority women are the main audience as well, just to learn about the reasons society deems to be against us and to change the game because why should individuals of minority decent not be given the opportunity to write and represent their culture for society to learn about them?


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