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The Impact of African American Roles on Television

Essay by   •  December 25, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  856 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,509 Views

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The image of African Americans has been greatly depreciated by the roles they play on television sitcoms. On these shows African Americans are depicted as being maids, clowns, and buffoons. This misrepresentation of African Americans has become common place through out the media. One of the most controversial sitcoms was the Amos 'n Andy Show. This sitcom included two black comedic men and began the creation of the African American stereotypes that most people have grown accustom to today.

The Amos 'n Andy Show began as a radio show with two white men portraying two black comedic men. When the show transferred to television, it consisted of the two black men portraying the two black comedic dummies. They were still performing the slapstick comedy as they did on the radio show, but to be able to see them visually had a greater effect. The roles that the two black men played are the typical roles that blacks play in television networks. The shows portraying blacks as having low self-esteem became very popular among whites and some blacks. The Amos 'n Andy Show was taken off air after being protested by blacks including the NAACP (Poussaint 1). The Amos 'n Andy Show

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had a profound effect on blacks. From that point on, blacks believed that in order to be successful in the television network they had to portray themselves as being idiotic and lazy.

Stereotypes such as this have been continuously developing in the television network even today. The modernized images played by blacks are drunks, thugs, thieves, gangsters, and other characters that are inferior to whites. By creating these images of blacks, it has caused both blacks and whites to see African Americans as being ignorant and believing that is the only way that they should act. Television networks depict whites as the typical families with no problems, and blacks as the single parents with a long list of problems. The impact of those roles had a great effect on how the African American race, young and old conceive their selves. Even today, there are very few African American business people. These racist stereotypes has conformed their minds into thinking that less is best. Young African American children watch these televisions shows that portray blacks as being thugs and uneducated. Those children go through school acting that same way, getting into trouble, and making nothing of their selves. They are our future and are becoming corrupt through television stereotypes.

Many broadcast executives believe whites rarely watch shows, particularly sitcoms, with largely black casts. The networks broadcast relatively few shows with black or even integrated casts in prime time television spots. There are two popular, outdated stereotypes about African Americans. First, whites and non-blacks won't waste their time and money on anything perceived as "black oriented" (1). Secondly, blacks are viewed as marginal, if not irrelevant, as TV and film viewers and product consumers (1).

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As the television network decided to integrate, The Cosby Show became the ultimate turning point. This show consisted of blacks and whites. The Cosby Show depicted African American's with middle-class lifestyles. Characters were seen as successful doctors, nurses, and lawyers. This idea of blacks was not readily accepted. This opened doors for African Americans to understand that whites were not the only ones who could be successful. This show somewhat allowed whites to know and understand that blacks are the same way that they think they are, intelligent



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