Undergraduate Research

Kari Allen '23

OUR Featuted Researcher: Kari Allen '23

Photo Credit: Jacob Strauss
Photo credit: Jacob Strauss

Kari Allen (she/her) is an Africana Studies and Psychology major conducting mentored research under Professor Candice Raynor. Her project is titled “That Ain't None of My Sista: Stereotypes of Black Women in Film and Self-Perception". 

Please describe your project: 

Stereotypes against Black women are extremely common, especially in the media. In films Black women are often forced into boxes and never given the space to shine. My research aims to understand why these stereotypes are so popular and just how harmful they can be. Black women grow up and see how they are portrayed in the media and this can be harmful to their self-esteem. Having a low self-esteem leads to a lower quality of life and if the stereotypes found in film are correlated to lower self-esteem then we can see that they are harmful. Hopefully these stereotypes being outed as harmful will encourage people to ignore and stop making these negative depictions of Black women so that they can have better lives.

A brief summary (the elevator speech) of your research project:

I am researching how negative stereotypes in film against Black women can be harmful especially to Black women’s self-esteem/self-perception. I am also researching why these stereotypes are so popular and pprofitable.

Why is your research important? 

My research is important because showing just how harmful stereotypes against Black women in film are can potentially get people to stop believing them. It will also hopefully make these stereotypes less profitable and therefore less popular.

How did you get involved in research? How has working with your mentor impacted the development of your research project? How has it impacted you as a researcher?

I was told by someone who was a Mellon fellow to apply and I found a topic that interested me as well as combined my two majors. I was not planning on doing research in college but I am a very curious person and I like to watch movies.

What is your favorite aspect of the research process?

My favorite part of the research process is talking to other people and getting new ideas. Whenever I run into a block in thought I always talk to someone about what I am doing because it re-excites me about what I am researching. Other people are also just very helpful because they have a different way of seeing things.

How has working with your mentor impacted the development of your research project? How has it impacted you as a researcher?

Working with my mentor has been so important because I often have so many ideas that do not always connect and she helps me figure out what I am actually trying to get at. Working with her has helped me as a researcher because she helps me feel more confident in the fact that I know what I am doing.

What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in your field?

Ask your professors if they are working on any projects or would be willing to help you with one that you come up with on your own because they have so much knowledge. Also Oberlin has so many ways to support you along your research process, especially in the humanities which is nice because for the most part you are on your own. (visit CELA!)