Essay on Blacks so Far, but Not Far Enough

Submitted By marquisarmani12
Words: 1177
Pages: 5

Ever since 1968 to present time, there have been many black family television shows that show how far black people have and have not come in a variety of areas. Things have evolved a whole lot over time since 1968 on how the black family image was portrayed then and how it is portrayed now. The portrayal of these families evolved from racial stereotypes to include a wide range of issues that are faced by all families, including blacks, regardless of ethnic or racial background. It was not until the late 1960s when the first African-American family aired on television. In 1968 the television series “Julia”, it focused on the life of a widowed, single mother, and nurse. This show broke many of the stereotypes about African-American women. It showed how strong African American woman were and how strong they could be. I’ve conducted an interview with a woman who has lived through the 1960’s and also present day, Diane Keys, an African American women. The information received is on first-hand account. My first question for her was; how did you feel about the portrayal of African American families on television in the 1960’s? She answered “In the 1960’s there were few African American shows, but I feel we were portrayed in a professional and decent manner and we felt like we were apart of the American dream with the few African American shows that aired. There were a handful of positive African American shows. Just a handful…”
My analysis of her statement shows that African Americans back then hoped for the best for themselves and wanted to prosper and live normal lives just like anyone else would. The second question I asked was, do you think African Americans could relate to what they were seeing on TV? She answered, “No, I don’t feel we could relate because of racism and segregation. It was hard for me to see myself in those professions seen on tv because for the most part I didn’t see blacks represented and they weren’t offered to us in school unless we went to a black school. In high school, our guidance counselors talked down on us saying basically that they didn’t think that we were capable to be a nurse or a doctor, just a nurse’s aid, cook, or a domestic worker. Before African American television shows were respected, they were stereotyped. Blacks were thought to be inferior to whites in America. Even though African American appeared on television in great numbers, they continued to receive criticism. A historian named Robert Sklar pointed out “television programs certainly don’t reflect American society in any precise sense, but to be popular they do need to express, in their various conventional stylized ways, some of the real feelings and concerns of their audience.” In my opinion what he meant by this was that some of the things people see on television is just to appeal to them. In an article in the New York Times, Henry Louis Gates Jr. stated, “There is very little connection between the social status of black Americans and the fabricated images of black people that Americans consume each day. Moreover, the representation of blacks on TV is a very poor index to our social advancement or political progress.” He is basically saying that today, the majority of what is shown on television is not how every African American household is. Though some of the things people can relate too, other things cannot be related to. He believes that blacks are doing better on television than in real life. In a way Gates is correct. For an example he uses “The Cosby Show”, which is a show that focuses on the Huxtable family, an upper middle-class family living in Brooklyn, New York. Henry felt as if African Americans at the time could not relate to the Cosby’s. In my opinion shows like “The Cosby Show”, gave African Americans hope that one-day they can prosper in everyday life. The popularity of the show was often seen as a symbol of hope and progress.
Today there are not many movies that are raising