Submission Date


Document Type




Faculty Mentor

Jasmine Harris


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

The purpose of this research is to examine how television shows and their portrayals of professional Black women impact the interpretation of marriage rates by race and perpetuate ideologies about the angry, unlovable Black woman. Using a content analysis of cable and network television shows with Black professional women as lead characters, this study connects an analysis of the characters’ lived experiences to normative expectations of Black women in relationships to call into question the prevailing narrative that Black women are in part personally responsible for their statistical plight. I will closely study how the two stereotypes, the Jezebel and the Sapphire, are still used in the narratives for Black women today. The goal of examining these three shows is to show that their portrayals of professional Black woman perpetuate the idea that Black women don’t have the time for relationships because they’re too focused on their job, and that the low marriage statistics allow portrayals of Black women that perpetuate the idea that they are not cut out for, or interested in, marriage and family. Marquita Marie Gammage in her book “Representations of Black Women in Media: The Damnation of Black Womanhood” says that society, rather than placing the blame of low marriage rates on factors such as social or economic problems, put the blame on the black woman instead. The issue lies with the blame being put on the individual rather than the social system as a whole.

Open Access

Available to all.