I try to support Black programs whenever they air. However, there are some shows I just can’t get behind. After stomaching two episodes of ABC’s new sitcom Black-ish I can honestly say it is the worst Black sitcom of the 21st Century. Literally a modern day Minstrel show. Instead of Black-ish they should call it Blackface.
Black-ish is about a so-called brother from the ghetto who worked his way up and has finally gotten his piece of the pie. And now that he’s gotten his piece of pie, he’s become insecure and afraid of him and his family losing their Black identity as they’ve moved on up and are now living in the suburbs. Basically, it’s The Jeffersons 2.0. Only not as funny.
Anthony Anderson’s character is cut from the same mold as George Jefferson. A well-educated Black man who has all the trappings of success such as a nice house, a nice car, and a six-figure job. Unfortunately, just like George Jefferson he’s an idiot. If he doesn’t spend his time feeling ashamed of being Black, he’s trying to keep his kids from “acting white”. All while he buckdances, coons and chases his white bosses the same way George Jefferson used to chase the never-seen banker Mr. Whittendale 40 years ago in every episode looking for his approval.
What makes Black-ish a minstrel show is the whole concept about a Black man being insecure about his own Black identity. In Black-ish Anthony Anderson spends 30 minutes of every epsisode apologizing to the “good white folks in TV Land” for being Black. And then after apologizing to the White audience for being Black, he goes out and does things to prove how “Black” he still is. And when he goes out to prove how Black he is he participates in some of the most stereotypical and racist behavior known to man.
If he’s not shufflin like a slave for his White bosses, he’s getting emasculated by his Black wife. (Sorry, I’m not calling her biracial. Because biracial is always BLACK in my eyes.) Or he’s getting outsmarted by his kids. Or he’s being belittled and berated by his father. Instead of being treated with the respect the leader and head of the family is supposed to have, he’s treated like a pet dog.
Someone we laugh at instead of laugh with.
After stomaching the two episodes of Black-ish I had to wonder if I watching an old episode of Amos N’ Andy repackaged for the 21st Century. Yeah ABC calls it Black-Ish. But Shawn calls it Coon-ish.
It’s just painful to watch a so-called college educated Black executive acting like a scared slave servant from 1914 in 2014. If a White man dressed up in Blackface and acted the way Anthony Anderson did Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, The Black Fraternities and sororities, the NAACP and the rest of the Old guard Negroes would be protesting in the streets.
But because the Uncle Ruckus’ in Black Hollywood are the New millennium minstrels we have them promoting coonin’ and buffonin’ as the new standard for Black entertainment.
I miss James Evans, Heathcliff Huxtable, Phillip Banks and Carl Winslow. All those Black men were funny. And they were secure in their Black identity and their manhood. They didn’t apologize for Being Black. Because they were proud of being BLACK.
Yes, Cliff Huxtable, Phillip Banks and Carl Winslow had success. They had careers. But they knew they were men. They knew they were leaders. They knew being Black was NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. They had the confidence and sense of self-worth to go out in the world that hated them and not be afraid of it. And they weren’t afraid of their kids losing their Black identity. Because they instilled Black pride in them from BIRTH.
I have to wonder: Is this what the image of what Black men has sunk to? Either we get this shine Anthony Anderson acting like a scaredy cat slave or we get Power Simp Black Brutes like Colin in No Good Deed getting emotional and acting super crazy over white women. Or we get Forrest Whitaker being a shuffling servant in Lee Daniels’ The Butler or anonymous Black men participating in perverted sexual acts like the father in Precious.
The sad part is that this Black-ish coonfest is produced not by White people, but by Black people. And Like Scandal, Precious, Monster’s Ball and all of Tyler Perry’s minstrel movies it’s Black producers perpetuating the most racist and degrading images of Black people to the world. In an age where Black people have an opportunity to create any content and get it to the marketplace is this the BEST Negroes can come up with?
I have to wonder what’s going on with Black Hollywood? Is it something in the water? Have these rich Negroes become so disconnected from the Black community that they don’t see themselves as Black anymore? Or are they so scared of offending the White masses by showing them a realistic picture of Black life that they feel obligated to put on minstrel shows?
We’ve had 14 years of non-stop Minstrels in America. And almost all these sellout Black celebrities have co-signed this nonsense. And sadly most of Black America continues to support it unconditionally.
Come on people.
I know it’s possible to produce better quality content featuring the same themes as Black-ish because I’ve done it myself. Twice. In my screenplay book All About Nikki-The Fabulous First Season I tackled the same issue that Black-ish tried to explore in its premise in the tenth episode of the series titled All About Black.
In All About Black I made every effort to get people to understand race and identity in America as it regarded to Black people in the upper economic classes. And while I tackled such a sensitive issue, I managed to still put in jokes and humor while still getting the point across that the there is no one single defining Black identity in America.
And I also explored race and identity as it related to class in my novel The Thetas. In that book, Colleen the daughter of a Wall Street stockbroker is exposed to people who have different Black cultural experiences as she pledges the Theta sorority. In an incident in a restaurant hoodrats attack her and her Theta Sisters for “acting white” for speaking well and dressing well.
In both books I showcase and feature rich upper-class Blacks like the characters in the show Black-ish. I still get my jokes out there. However, I don’t have the characters apologize for being Black or being ashamed of it. Nor do I have them pandering to white folks. In my stories my characters are proud of their Blackness. Learning my lessons from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Cosby Show, Sister, Sister and Family Matters, I make every effort to humanize the characters so the reader can relate to them and see them as people like them, not caricatures.
And people both Black, white and nonblack all over the world have responded positively to both All about Nikki and The Thetas. It’s clear to me that White and foreign audiences would be receptive to humanized images of Black people.
Unfortunately, Black producers like Shondra Rhimes, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels and Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne won’t produce them. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the White Liberals in Hollywood who prefer seeing the usual stereotypes that make up the modern day minstrel show that Black entertainment has become.
The way I see it Black people who achieve success are not Black-ish, they are BLACK. And what makes them truly Black is who they are on the inside. It’s because they are proud of their Blackness they earn the respect of people all over the world. If the second and third generation of Negroes currently working in Hollywood maybe would stop being cinema slaves and stop putting on this minstrel show maybe we could start working on developing truly positive images of African-Americans to inspire and uplift Black viewers in the 21st Century.