Over the past five years, Black-ish has become a famous comedy watched by families around the world. From a satirical perspective, the show depicts elements of social values, families, money, and life. Black-ish has received a significant amount of backlash, especially in the areas of race and culture, despite its high ratings and feedback. For most reviewers, the series perpetuates a mentality that calls into question America's new quest to stay colorblind. In several ways, Black-ish depicts the effect of racist social policy through non-racial terms. Black-ish depicts the aspect of being a black American as a culture rather than a race but takes a humorous approach to it making the film an insult to the people who fought against slavery and racism.
From the title Black-ish, it is evident that the show is simply a rhetoric or a mock up of what it entails to be a black person. While focusing on a generation of well to do African Americans in an upper-middle class, the series takes a different approach as it tries to show the way such an occurrence is rare. In other words, it is quite unique to have African Americans in the upper middle class with a father and mother who are not criminals. That is why the father, also fondly known as _x0091_Dre_x0092_, is so uncomfortable with the things that would bring an enviable status to the African American people. For instance, when he gets a promotion at work to lead the _x0091_urban division_x0092_ he does not celebrate but instead laments. Dre works so hard for only one reason, he does not want his family to become poor like other African Americans. So he may be a black man, but he is not purely black in his behaviour, attitude and social status, thus the addition of the suffix _x0096_ ish to the word black in the title.
The main character is portrayed as a clueless individual who does not know anything about his culture, yet he tries to force it on the people around him. Through this portrayal, Black-ish conjures up an image of African Americans who are clueless in regard to their culture. They are so clueless that they do not know about Africa, yet they purport to celebrate their culture. A good example is when Dre tries to find a black friend for his son. As they peruse through the names of students in their class, Dre fails to recognize students from Malawi yet this is a country found in Africa. The mock-up goes on in all the seasons that have been released so far and Dre keeps showing his audience how much he does not known regarding the African culture. The pertinent question is how could Dre pride himself in being an African when he knows nothing regarding his roots? He paints Africa as a country whose people are backwards when he dresses up in Ankara and does some traditional rites that appear as magic on his son in the quest of trying to turn hi African.
A resonating concept discussed by critics in relation to race is the value that people place on certain aspects that propagate or destroy the image of a particular way of life (Alexander 40; Faegin 32). From the sitcom, everything negative connotes the customs of black people, yet it is African Americans who are the main characters. For instance, Dre appears to celebrate the Jewish customs by allowing his son to have a version of one of its rites of passage. However, he makes a mock-up of the African rite of passage yet he wants his audience to see him as an individual from the black way of life. Such juxtaposition diminishes the significance of the African American culture. If Black-ish_x0092_s intention was to portray African American traditions from a positive point of view, then they would have done a better job than simply taking everything negative and relating it to the values.
One of the major problems presented by most critics of the show Black-ish is based on the fact that it portrays the African American traditions from a stereotypical point of view. At this point, it is important to know what it means to be black and stereotypical and _x0091_Dre_x0092_ is a clear example of such an individual. A stereotype is defined as one who conforms to certain aspects held on to and believed by the society as normal or acceptable (Alexander 12). Dre is biased and thus stereotypical as he holds onto the belief that anything associated with the African American culture is not valuable. He is a good example of those people who think that success is an automatic translation to losing the basic components of a society or culture.
The use of epithets is a common way of demeaning a certain race, and Black-ish portrays the whole concept as a very bad joke further humiliating the culture in all social standings. The images of former American President Ronald Reagan referring to African Americans using anecdotes such as _x0091_some young buck_x0092_ are etched into the memory of most affected people up to date. President Reagan used the anecdotes to describe the African American populace in the United States who were thought of as the main recipients and beneficial of progressive anti-poverty programs. That alone deemed African Americans unwanted and discriminated against an aspect that is clearly evident in Black-ish.
Black-ish uses descriptions that refer to welfare from a stereotypical perspective. Historically, and even up to today, anyone who picks up money from the government is automatically deemed lazy and poor. For example, the government would continually warn African American women who are under funding to stop having many children, and this was even used to describe most poor people who do not plan for their lives.
Black-ish portrays African American people as those who are rigid and not ready to accept any other race into their fold since they have no idea of what it means to be black. According to Feagin, it is quite common for minority races to have a certain cocoon where only people from their culture are allowed to infiltrate (39). For example, it is quite hypocritical for Dre to go home and refer to his wife as _x0093_pigment-challenged mixed-race woman,_x0094_ showing that she is not black to his satisfaction. At the dinner table, it is evident that he has failed as a parent as his children from a mixed race do not know that Barrack Obama is a president. He even goes ahead and looks down on his son for trying out for field hockey instead of basketball. It is shocking that Dre has never taught his children such matters, yet he expects them to know. If he appreciated his culture, he should have inculcated the values into his family.
According to Pager and Shepherd, discussions about persistent inequality may bring people to a point of assimilation to the extent that one culture loses its value (184). This is the same concept portrayed by Black-ish, especially considering that the elderly people in the series are trying to revive the values of African American communities. Some of these values are no longer considered important by the current population. An analysis of the life of Dre reveals that he is as clueless as his own son and that is why he cannot teach him the right way to go when talking about culture. Dre says he went through discrimination yet he is the one teaching his children how to discriminate. For example, he has already classified all the friends into two categories _x0096_ black ones and others. Such division does not help the young populace to understand the significance of non-discrimination.
The whole idea of discussing racism is to ensure that it is gotten rid of using some very practical means (Pager and Shepherd 190). Black-ish revives the notion that racism does not only happen to black people, but it also takes place within the community _x0096_ a fact that is quite saddening. For example, Dre is unimpressed when he is chosen to run a division called the _x0091_Urban Division_x0092_ as this is a position given to African American people. He wants to appear different by focusing on things that are not done by people from his culture.
The media is responsible for shaping the opinion of the public through the way it propagates news and information, and Black-ish perpetuates stereotypical ideologies. Williamson et al., refer to this concept as _x0091_framing_x0092_ and explain that it is a strategically taken approach meant to fashion issues at hand in a legitimate way (7). This way, the media creates a situation where certain notions are cancelled in the minds of individuals and recreated in another (Feagin 39). In Black-ish, the show is already in the media and it perpetuates the notion that being black is not a necessarily appreciated. All through the show, everyone makes fun of being an African American to the extent that minute details like hair straightening and cooking are looked down upon.
Supporters of Black-ish argue that the series celebrates the African American culture. Apparently, the sitcom contains valuable lessons in regard to the way African Americans live. Additionally, it gives solid examples which strengthen the societal views of the way of life of African Americans. One particular example used by such critics is the first episode of the fourth season where the show celebrates Juneteenth _x0096_ a day that celebrates slavery. In this episode, it is Dre who suggests to the teacher that they should also partake of a holiday such as Juneteenth in addition to some of the ones that he considers a basic one. During the celebration, there is a portrayal of slavery right from the costumes and the problems that some of them went through while trying to live a normal life. Additionally, it is possible to take the whole show as rhetorical with most of the characters taking up the aspects portrayed by the society in regards to race. As explained by Williamson, it is possible to have rhetorical approaches taken towards certain concepts in society (13). In this case, Dre and his children may be a typical representation of the society which always equates anything with African Americans. There are those like Dre_x0092_s mother who upholds African American values, including the cooking and there are those who think that being black is not something worth celebrating.
Supporters of the Black-ish show also dispute that the central character is a proper representation of the woes that the African American communities who are discriminated against and deemed incapable of achieving good things in life. For instance, immediately after President Donald Trump loses, Dre is sitting in the office quiet with his friends discussing the loss of Hillary Clinton. Dre does not play any part in the debate but opts to remain quiet throughout the discussion. When his friends question his quietness, he goes into a monologue where he laments segregation and the fact that he is used to things not going his way. He even quotes slavery explaining the way his ancestors were placed in chains and brought to American by force. This form of portrayal in the show confirms that Black-ish is definitely concerned with the African American race and it is not just another sitcom making fun of the already battered race.
Another example from the Black-ish that confirms the significance of the African American race is the concern that Dre represents. Dre portrays his concern for the sake of other people from the African American race by recalling a time when he had nothing. He suggests that if he made it to the upper middle class, then it is possible for other people to do the sameAccording to Alexander, part of colour blindness is ignoring the fact that you once belonged somewhere worse (30). Clearly, Dre confirms that he is not just another man but he is an African American man who worked hard to achieve. In the introductory part of the motion picture, Dre says he grew up in a lower social class by referring to himself as a _x0091_kid from the hood_x0092_. The simple fact that he can remember and even mentions it confirms that he is aware of his roots and he is determined to become a better individual.
The issue of race is of significance especially for minority communities today. Black-ish takes a humorous approach thus makings fun of issues related to racism and slavery. As a result, the series takes away the significance of the issues faced by African Americans. Targeting a number of concepts such as discrimination and segregation, this is a discussion that confirms that the critics against Black-ish are very correct. The series portrays the African American community in a negative way. Even though there are a few jibes that portray the significance of race in the series, the idea of humour in such serious matters takes away the importance of racism.
Alexander, Michelle. The new Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press, 2012. Print.
Feagin, Joe R. The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial framing and Counter-Framing. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print.
Pager, Devah and Hana Shepherd. _x0093_The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets._x0094_ Annual Review of Sociology 34 (2008), pp. 181_x0096_209.
Williamson, Vanessa, Theda Skocpol and John Coggin. _x0093_The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism._x0094_ Perspectives on Politics, 9 (2011), pp. 5-43.
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