Stereotypes of African Americans in Television

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Sharita Jones

Stereotypes of African Americans have been around since slavery. Once media got involved it was able to give society a visual as to how other races portrayed them. With television, it’s becoming more and more vivid of how bad the stereotyping is getting. Now a day’s some writers of these shows and try to hide the racial remarks, while others are blunt with it and receive no type of punishment for their actions. You do have some sitcoms that will shine a positive light on the African American community, but these shows never last long. The gatekeepers do not want to put a positive image in your head they want you feel a certain way so therefore they come up with shows like Family Guy and South Park that say racial remarks, but it’s in a subliminal message. The first television was invented in 1927, but it took 33 years before an African American actress and actor would be seen on it. The first sitcom was debut in 1950, and it was Beulah. It was based on a white family whose housekeeper was black and overweight. The show was cancelled because the NAACP didn’t like the negative message it was sending to America. The first sitcom to be influential for African Americans was the Nat King Cole Show in 1956. This paved the way for show like The Bill Cosby Show, A Different World, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and In Living Color, which are still successful today. Donald Bogle’s Primetime Blues, explains the role that African Americans have portrayed all these year in television. Each chapter is broken up into decades and tells the role they have played and how television has mirrored the society’s attitude towards African Americans and other blacks. He describes how regardless of the role an African American plays whether they are a lawyer, doctor, cop, drug dealer, or working on wall street you are still an unknown real person. This has a physical affect on the African American growing up and they don’t realize it.

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