Representation of Black Race in Television Sitcoms Then and Now

Citizens in the United States and Television Media

Citizens in the United States of America, according to Elam (2005), rely largely on television media for knowledge and enjoyment. As a result, it is believed that it will reveal a properly confirmed depiction of African-Americans appearing in television sitcoms. Such authenticity in portrayal can help to remove the hierarchy that has been recognized and noted among the public of American culture. So, the focus of this research is on developing black race representation in television sitcoms both then and now.

Black Representation in Television Sitcoms

In the United States, black race representation in television sitcoms is on the rise. Yet, stereotypes persist. In particular, sitcom television such as "Show Boat Universal" starred Stepin Fecheit playing the leading role Hearts in Dexie intended to reinforce the concept of blacks being lazy. This follows the preconceived assumptions noted by Elam (2005) to be founded on the characteristics as well as the behaviors of the African- Americans. For instance, in samples of television sitcoms the 2 Broke girls, Method and Red as well as Minimal, the black race characters are given roles of supporting characters besides symbolizing themes such as poverty, suffering, and inadequate exposure or generally the lack of etiquette and all human imperfections. The media television according to Gray (2005) is responsible for advancing stereotype perceptions as depicted in the television sitcoms. These occur in situations where the black race is assigned roles that are unflattering and are believed by the American society as characteristics derived from definite actions.

Comparison of Black Representation Then and Now

Comparison of the black representation then and now indicates that a lot of changes have occurred. These can be accounted for with time interval of a decade beginning from 1960, 1970 and 1980.For example, taking into account the need to compare the changes from the time that sitcoms were first born then and now, the black race sitcom actors have made milestones in the entertainment industry. During the 1960s, the black race continued to receive stereotypical roles as noted in "Beulah and Amos 'n' Andy" was meant to be humorous and amusing to the white viewers (Elam 2005). As the Civil Rights Movement which used to fight for the minority went under way, it became apparent that the black race characters were unfairly represented in the television sitcoms including Lawrence Welk Show (1964-1971), Rawhide (1965), I Spy (1965-1968), Hogan's Heroes (1965-1970), The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show (1966), Hawk (1966) and Star Trek (1966-1969) (Elam 2005). In other situations, discriminatory hiring barred many black race actors from getting the opportunity to be in the shows. In the 1970s, after the Civil Rights Movement, evident changes began to take place (Kivisto and Rundblad 2000). For example, the black race actors began to receive and play roles that abhorred the negativities and discerned stereotypes as exemplified in the television show "The Mod Squad and Julia." Massive changes nonetheless came by 1980s when the black race actors accounted for 8% of the characters representing 12% of the population (Gray 2005).

Recent Changes and the Rise of Black Representation

In the year 2000s, many differences and further changes have occurred. The black race is currently producing their own television sitcoms which have at large drawn a great multitude of an audience. For example, actors including Kevin harts have claimed the international title. Representation is fair and the hiring practices are no longer discriminatory. These are derived from the fact that there are auditions which enable the actors to showcase their talents. As such, they are judged by their characters and content as opposed to color.


Concisely, the black race representation in the television sitcoms has risen to the level of equality. Comparing then and now, it has gone milestones. As opposed to then when blacks were servants, low lives and generally symbols of all negativities, now blacks can choose for themselves what role they want to pay. These have seen them take actions and roles they are good at thus have gone the miles to win Oscar awards.


Elam, H. J. (2005). Black cultural traffic: crossroads in global performance and popular culture. Ann Arbor, Univ. of Michigan Press.

Gray, H. (2005). Cultural moves: African Americans and the politics of representation. Berkeley, University of California Press.

Kivisto, P., and Rundblad, G. (2000). Multiculturalism in the United States: Current Issues, Contemporary. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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