Minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment consisting of comic skits, dancing and music, usually performed by white people in blackface in the period following the Civil War. These shows generally noted for negative stereotypical portrayals of blacks. Although minstrels were aired a long time ago, their influence is still felt nowadays in many ways. One may be surprised to realize that the demeaning caricatures of blacks once seen in the shows are in existence in a more refined manner.
A good example is found in the way African-Americans are perceived abroad. Foreign audiences who have never been privilege to meet African-Americans often watch them play the “bad” roles in movies; young scantily clad girls are seen as whores in music videos while their rugged male counterparts are perceived as criminals or drug addict. They are popularly seen in music videos as happy money sprayers living in ghettos. Many people would argue that the rappers who produce such song videos are only being real but little do they know that these acts only stigmatize them as lavish and nonchalant individuals who they unknowingly claim to be. This marks the whole point the white inventors of minstrel shows were trying to prove – present a false image of an intelligent and diligent race.
Furthermore, the effects of these ill notions presented by minstrel shows are not farfetched at all. I can vividly remember a young colleague asking me the most demeaning question I’ve ever been faced with a few months ago. He innocently asked if it was true that blacks in Africa are cannibals. This I found quite offensive but I rebuffed it and convinced him he was misinformed and that there is no element of truth in it. Another false figure displayed in the minstrel shows that has lived with us ever since is notion that blacks are sub-human being. They clearly taught the lesson that black is inferior to the white. As seen in the Ethnic Notions documentary, black kids were eaten by wild...
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