“Many Blacks on TV are portrayed as rappers and gangstas”

Posted: September 30, 2008 in Our Expression
Dennis Haysbert stars in "The Unit"

Dennis Haysbert stars in "The Unit"

Okay. I think I want to challenge this claim for a minute. This was a comment left by a recent commenter, but it is certainly not the first time I’ve heard someone say it.

While I am not a big TV watcher, most shows I have seen on television do NOT portray Blacks as rappers, gangsters or thugs. This morning I took the time to look through the cast of a handful of shows on ABC, CBS and NBC. Some of these shows I watch, most I do not. What I can tell you that based on the bios of the Black characters, NONE fit the “rappers, gangstas” or thug meme folks try to paint all Black actors and actresses in order to make a point.

The Unit
Law And Order
Pushing Daisies
Dirty Sexy Money
Grey’s Anatomy
Private Practice
Cold Case
Criminal Minds
CSI: Miami

Please note that this list does not include all the other show on various cable networks that feature Blacks who do not fit ugly stereotypes we have all grown to hate.

Back in May of this year, Debra Lee, CEO of BET mentioned that music videos only make up 20 percent of their total programing. Out of that 20 percent, a much smaller percent would probably fall under the thug/gangsta/hoochie category.

So my question here is why do folks insist using that small percentage to characterize most Black actors?

We have come a long way from the days of Amos and Andy. But if you listen to some folks, nothing has really changed.

  1. Give it a rest says:


    I will bet that the folks making these claims do NOT watch any of the shows you mention. Yet they keep tuning into MTV, VH1, BET during the “hip-hop hour” and then come away with this perspective.

    Hey don’t like what is on TV pick up a damn book! There are many, many, many positive books about all aspects of black life in the library or your local B&N or Boarders.

    On the otherhand, maybe these folks want better but honestly do not know how to get it, do to their own lack of knowledge and education. They are creatures of habit and do not know how to change.
    If you are an educated man sometimes you need to try to view the world through the eyes of someone who did not attend and graduate college and most likely recieved their primary education in a substandard school system. They do NOT think the way you do and do NOT have the strength of mind or confidence that you possess.

  2. nista206 says:

    “Back in May of this year, Debra Lee, CEO of BET mentioned that….”

    Yes, the music videos only make up a small portion, but the other programs on the network are such poor & ignorant portrayals of young black people, that it’s just the same. BET is a joke.

    However, there are other decent portrayals of us available on other networks.

  3. Duane says:

    but the other programs on the network are such poor & ignorant portrayals of young black people, that it’s just the same.

    Again, that is only a small portion of BET Networks. Have you checked out:

    BET Gospel
    BET Jazz
    BET Starz?

    Folks like to hammer BET because it was widely known for just videos. But I would argue that when it comes to showcasing foolishness, MTV networks got them beat by a mile. I think the merger with Viacom was actually good because it enabled them to move away from videos and get into much better programing.

    MTV puts out 2 movies called Jackass (I and II) and folks dismiss it as stupid comedy. BET throws out there a few rawnchy music videos and all of a sudden folks are shaking in their boots that Whitey might get the wrong impression about all Black folks.

    Yep. That’s called “Mental Slavery”.

  4. Lady Lucaze says:

    In my opinion, it is the fact these images of Black Americans as Rappers, Thugs and Criminals are the ones that are seen the most by an influential audience (i.e. our youth).

    Furthermore, in an attempt to capture the “Black Americna Culture and it’s Coloquialisms” writers and producers make Black people out to seem as though they are less educated than their white counterparts. And even though their comments and actions are logical and correct, when the event or character is written through the perspective of a biased mind it can create a subliminal image to other similar minds … take, for example, the charater that Gary Dourdan plays in the original CSI. He was an average guy just like the other characters on the right side of the law. He had his vices and issues, but they should not have been seen more severe than the other chaacters’. However, with the few epsodes that aired that highlighted the character’s previous gambling issues, they created in the Black man the “Bad Good Guy”. With the show that is set in one of the Nation’s largest casino cities, the writers only set the balck man up for failure from the beginning …

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