What were the principal forms of entertainment, and how did they reflect American sterotypes and prejudices before 1860?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There were many forms of entertainment during this time.  Some of them, like horse races and cock fights, did not really reflect any kinds of stereotyping or prejudice.

Other forms of entertainment did reflect such things.  For example, theater performances were very popular, but were generally off limits to "respectable" women.  This was because crowds were rowdy and because people thought women should generally stay home.  In this way, the audiences, at least, reflected American prejudices.

The form of entertainment that was most clearly based on stereotypes was the minstrel show.  This form of entertainment was one in which performers (usually white performers in "blackface") pretended to be black.  In doing so, they played to white stereotypes about black people.


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