As a kid I remember always running to the T.V. at 8:00 to watch the Cosby show on Nick at Nite, even though I was barely Rudy’s age. By the time I had started watching the show, it had already been over for years. But even as a kid, it entertained me more than cartoons ever did. I knew I was watching something special.
Watching the show I saw a family not so different from mine. A family with morals, educational values, and at times comedic moments of chaos, while respecting their black culture in a way I could relate to. When Claire got angry she didn’t snap her fingers, curse her kids out, or throw any glasses. She handled herself like a respectable woman. Like the woman that had raised me, and the women that surrounded me. To me, this is what being black meant. Carrying yourself with dignity no matter the circumstances.
This show resonated with all American families. Not just the African-Americans that people had been led to believe were below this way of life. The popularity of the show transcended race lines, because it was relatable to all that watched it. It showed that at the core we are more alike than we think.
But with today’s pop cultural depiction of African-Americans, we are constantly battling the stereotypes that they choose to portray. Whether it be in the workplace, school, or relationships. With shows like Love and Hip-Hop, and movies like Madea, we are constantly being portrayed as a joke. Although comedies usually exaggerate real life events for a good laugh, when we turn on the TV, or purchase a movie ticket, they are the only windows into black culture.
Although families like the Obama’s and children like Gabby Douglass have helped to relieve the blow of these shows and movies, they are only seen as the exception. The exception to a group of people that are happily being sold out by their own for a quick buck.
As an outsider looking in, you would think that all the depictions of African-Americans are true. I mean if they weren’t they would defend themselves instead of supporting these films and TV shows right?
WRONG. Unfortunately the people promoting and supporting these films are the same color as the people they are subjugating to ridicule. Instead of promoting the positive values that Black families have, directors like Tyler Perry work to slander the reputation of African-Americans. While they are laughing, others are taking these over-exaggerated habits as fact, and using them against us.
After the Cosby show worked to showcase the relatability of African-American values, current movies and shows have worked to ruin it in a way that prevents our growth. This is what causes false definitions of what it means to be black.
Since I’m going abroad, this scares me. When we aren’t in other countries, these movies and shows are what represent us. And they’re not a good representation.