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CAE Undergraduate Researchers Recognized in the Tulanian

Center for Academic Equity grant recipients take center stage in Tulane's profile of undergraduate researcher.

Students who engage in original research are able to explore the boundaries of creative exploration, immerse themselves in other cultures, and see problems through new perspectives. Their research enhances the possibility of breakthroughs in how we understand the world. Those who change the world do so because they are able to ask new questions, work with others, see the significance of people, places, and phenomena that no one else has deemed important. 


How Do African American and Ugandan Mainstream Magazines Construct the Idea of What is “Beautiful”? 

For centuries, there has been a stigma against African American and Ugandan women’s natural beauty in cultural and social settings. This negative connotation stems from slavery and colonization and has been perpetuated by mainstream magazines today. For African American women in the United States, people have recently become more receptive to natural beauty, but it is still looked down upon by corporate and white America. As for women in Uganda, women rarely wear their natural hair out because it’s still associated with negative implications. This study poses the question: how do African American and Ugandan mainstream magazines play a role in the conceptualization of what is “beautiful”? I propose that African American (EBONY) and Ugandan mainstream magazines (Africa Beauty) suffocate traditional black beauty styles with European styles, thereby establishing whiteness as the standard of beauty. The study will also document the difference in the standards of African American and Ugandan mainstream media. The implication of the study is to discover ways for African descendant women to define their own concept of beauty. 



LGBTQ Populations In Media: Is the Right Message Being Sent? 

For the purpose of this research paper, I am focused on mainstream depictions of gay or lesbian and bisexual female identifying individuals in media. This is a content media analysis in which I analyzed the deaths of female queer characters in several TV shows and how the deaths occurred. LGBTQ people in modern media, including TV and movies, are often depicted violently and as evil, immoral, or as being punished. These depictions have a negative effect on the perceptions and beliefs that people hold about LGBTQ people. I completed a content and linguistic media analysis of LGBTQ populations in the popular American TV show Shameless and a content media analysis looking at 19 different lesbian or bisexual female deaths in TV shows in the last year. 

There is still much research to be done in depicting LGBTQ populations in an ethical way in the media. Although I understand that the victim trope will likely not be completely eradicated, I think that the more dominant and frequent form of queer representation in media needs to send a positive message that does not end in the death of queer people. By portraying realistic and nuanced depictions of queer people, the broader population can begin to see LGBTQ people as less of an “other” and therefore decrease the massive number of hate crimes against LGBTQ populations.