Thursday, 10 July 2014

Why Television is to blame for why there won't be another Black President

Switch on your TV and close your eyes. Now imagine the image of Black People that you would have been shown in the 90s, 80s and maybe even 70s(before my time). Now open your eyes! What do you see today Crime watch, Top Boy and Youngers... 

Few of you would have notice that when I and many of you were growing up there were many shows on TV with a mainly black cast. Brilliant and iconic Television shows such as; Cosby show, Fresh prince of Bel-Air, Desmond's, My Wife and Kids, Sister Sister, Moesha, The Real Mccoy, One on One etc etc… Now there is NOT SO MUCH. Some of you may say so what? 

Well i will tell you WHAT!

Example: Fresh Prince of Bel-air; to many Uncle Phil was there TV Dad; much like Bill cosby was before him. Uncle Phil, was educated, he had a distinguished job and looked after his family. Carlton was intelligent and geeky. Ashley was young and talented. Hilary was slight silly but she found her feet and became a successful TV Host. Will was "street" but he too found his way with guidance of Uncle Phil. Each episodes showed a plethora of perspectives of Black culture/people, to the extent that it became about family life, growing up and chasing your dreams rather than just a "Black show". Both black and white people enjoyed watching The Fresh Prince. We laughed and learnt together. Don't forget most good television shows tackle real life issues....

Why is this important?

Not every person has a real friend from a different culture/ethnicity.

Not every person lives in the cultural melting pot of the big city.
Not every person has a reference point for alternative perspectives of black culture, people and stereotypes. 

Therefore, the impact of having less of a variety or no variety in this case, is that it allows one stereotype to become prominent. Which means;

Not every Black Person grew up on an estate in London
Not every Black Person in a hoodie conspires to mug or attack you
Not every Black Person in a large group is plotting riot and loot shops.
Not every Black Person has a criminal record
Not every Black person speaks with a London accents 
Not every Black Person is a hustler, thief, footballer, rapper, gang member, or drug dealer

What are Black people doing? What types of Black people are there? 

The same as everyone else! There's whole spectrum of Black people leading different lives; both positive and negative. However, if you only show the negative on TV. You perpetuate the wrong ideal that being Black is negative, street, ghetto or has some kind of other criminal connotation. 

The impact of this marginal stereotypical TV depictions is on both white and black people.

 For White People

They will soon come to assume that the stereotypes they see on TV are correct generalisations of all black people; "black people be like...". 
Ulster Rugby Team: What were they thinking?
This will impact on race relations in a way that is far more important than is being publicly documented. Through, a lack of discussion on race, more and more white kids are doing "Black face". Not because they intend to offend but because no one is there to educate them on why it is so offensive.(Click here to see my video on my black face; Why black people get offended) However, sometimes like the Ulster Rugby Team, grown men should just know better!
The N word; hip hop has to take blame for its proliferation. However, TV should and was an avenue to combat the stereotypes that go with it. TV should be an avenue for conversation between co-workers, students and friends. To discuss issues like race and culture. Now speaking about race is a taboo. With white people afraid to be seen as racist and Black people afraid to be seen as sensitive

For Black People

As Chris Rock said "there's Black people and there's N*ggas; black people hate N*ggas!". I don't use that word lightly. I use it in the context that it represents a person who is enslaved by perpetual cycle of ignorance, criminality and lack of thought for his fellow man or the community at large. 
If you are reading this post you are more than likely a black person. And with that comes a dislike of those "N*ggas*" that bring down the Black race publicly through criminality or generally ridiculousness!. So, when you turn on your TV and you see nothing but their stereotype it impacts you in two ways. 

1. It annoys and sometimes even angers you. You work hard, study, look after your family and generally live a respectable life but all you see on TV are negative stereotypes.

2. For the youth or the more impressionable it can make you question your own "blackness". How do i fit in this world where the concept of black is "street". But i have a job and talk in full sentences. Am i black? Am i a sell out, Uncle Tom, Coconut or House N*gga... Constant depiction of a narrow stereotype makes you question yourself because you do not adhere to it. This is the saddest thing about the lack of diversity on TV. We should be celebrating the Brothers and Sisters doing well for themselves and the community. Think of Carlton he is somewhat of the opposite to Will; he isn't as cool and he is geeky. But he still has a place in the family. He is intelligent, hardworking and is actually an amazing dancer. He is the depiction of many black people who have gone to university; there's no shame in being intelligent!

Most importantly for All peoples...
Young children/teenager and even adults used to be able to view a variety of perspectives of different ethnicities. Often through comedy the barriers of a lack of understanding and/or ignorance were broken down. Through interaction, learning and watching of television we learnt about each others cultures, mannerism and likes/dislikes. We learnt when it comes down to it we are all basically the same. We have the same fears, loves and similar troubles.

It is not just black shows; where's variety of cast members?

I can remember watching shows as far back as Rising Damp and seeing the interaction between races. Watching the educated, satirical and eloquent Phillip consistently interact with the somewhat ignorant and misguided views of his Landlord Rigsby, had a great impact on my own thinking. Shows like this brought to the forefront race relations issues. Along with somewhat teaching me and others how to deal with racist situation; i.e. rather than through anger.

The greater impact

Remember the same generations that grew up to watching Bill Cosby( A doctor) and Philip Banks (supreme court judge) would have eventually become the electorate that voted for President Obama…

Who will the next generation vote for if they only see black people as the cast of Top Boy or Adulthood...

so what is your opinion on the current programmes on tv? Do they represent different ethnicities fairly? what was your favourite show from the 90s?

As usually feel free to comment below. All discussion is welcome!

Antoine Allen
"The three 3 c's  of life; choice, chance and change. You have to make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything to change"