Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

African American Studies

First Advisor

Caralee Jones-Obeng, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Victor Okafor, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ann R. Eisenberg, Ph.D.


Stereotypes of Black women in media impact Black women heavily. Historically, the three main stereotypes of Black women on television are the Mammy, the Jezebel, and the Sapphire. Within recent television programming, reality television has gained popularity and now serves as a key pathway to observe Black female stereotypes. Out of these stereotypes, Black women are often portrayed as the Sapphire. While previous studies have focused on children’s and adolescent’s perspectives of the Sapphire’s images in reality television (Adams-Bass, 2014, Cox, 2020), they neglect to address the issues that arise from the consumption of Black reality television by Black women. This project discusses the Sapphire image portrayed within reality television and analyzes how college-aged Black women are impacted by the Sapphire stereotype. To perform this project, I conducted oral histories with four college-aged Black women who attend EMU and were exposed to Black reality television. Major findings were that the observation of Sapphire stereotypes seen on reality television caused participants to reject said stereotype and encouraged them to behave in non-stereotypical ways. The discussion addresses implications and the underlying reasons behind these results.