The Brooklyn high school teacher who writes the NYC-themed Big Smoke Street Corner blog has some interesting things to say about racism in the Grand Theft Auto series.
Having played pretty much the entire series (being, sadly, the resolute gamer I am) and basically noting how much they've pulled from such sources as The Godfather, Scarface and New Jack City, I can not remember a single positive image for Blacks, Mexicans, Cubans, Jamaicans, Colombians, Haitians, Italians, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Japanese, one Jewish lawyer (!) and soon in the upcoming game, Russians and Serbians; not to mention the constant lampooning of liberals and homosexuals. Mind you, of course, there are never any white gangs.
DAMMIT! When is a game going to come along and accurately depict the epidemic of white street gangs! Running around in their leather jackets, with names like Ponyboy and Sodapop. Until S.E. Hinton is brought on as a consultant this racism will continue unabated!
Now I am sure there are some white street gangs out there, but you're more likely to see the odd white guy in a mainly Black or Mexican gang, because dammit, their gangs are just that much cooler than anything a bunch of white kids could come up with.
I don't think the portrayal Grand Theft Auto has anything to do with racism. EVERYONE in Grand Theft Auto is a larger-than-life caricature. Corrupt cops are more corrupt. Geeks are geekier. Slutty women are sluttier. The snozberries taste like snozberries.
As for the lack of positive images in the series, who can you single out as a completely positive character in GTA? There are no role models. There are no white knights without tarnished armor. This is the seedy underbelly. What did you expect?