Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Your Modern Black(-ish) Family.

The new hit T.V. show Black-ish is currently on its second season. After its premiere on September 24th, 2014, it has become a very popular television series. The show follows Andre “Dre” Johnson and his African American family’s daily life. After growing up in Compton California, Dre is very proud of his “Black” roots. Similar to the way in which Modern Family follows the story of what it is like to be a “modern family,” Black-ish is about what it’s like to be “kind of black.” Like Modern Family, Black-ish shows how the world is changing and society isn’t under the tight boundaries it used to be. In the course of one episode, Black-ish presents a handful of racial stereotypes about African Americans in society and proceeds to defy each stereotype by using humor or the personality and actions of characters.

Blackish, at times enforces racial stereotypes about black people but at other times defies stereotypes through characters personalities and humorous situations. Dre’s family as a whole defies the idea of a stereotypical African American family. Stereotypes often portray African American families as poor, undereducated and unsuccessful. Dre is a successful advertising executive while his wife, Rainbow, is an accomplished surgeon. Both professions aren’t typically associated with African Americans. As an upper middle class family, the Johnsons contradict what it means to be a stereotypical African American family.

In the episode, Switch Hitting, a white man named Jay Sloane comes to Dre’s advertising company. When Jay and Dre meet and they go to shake hands, Jay goes in for a complicated handshake that Dre fails to match. After Dre, Jay initiates the handshake between himself and Dre’s African American colleague, Charlie. Charlie and Jay execute the handshake perfectly and even add a little spin.

Dre is astounded that Charlie, who is slightly incompetent, was able to keep up with Jay’s complex handshake. Due to Jay’s childhood in the Bronx and Dre’s inability to keep up with the handshake, Jay doesn’t view Dre as “Hood” or “Keeping it real”. Later on in the episode Dre tries to prove he is “Hood” and “Keeping it real” by enforcing a variety of stereotypes. First off, he adopts a pit bull to show off how “Hood” he is. The stereotypical dog of African Americans is a pit bull. When he walks in to greet his wife Rainbow, he is wearing a gold chain, LA hat and a Clippers jersey. Dre’s attempts to act “Hood” enforce racial stereotypes about African Americans. Dre and Jay sit down to eat and Rainbow brings out “Soul food.”

Her take on “Soul food” is “ka-lard greens” instead of collared greens (ka-lard greens are made from kale). She also made “mac and tease” which is vegan mac and cheese. These creative, hilarious and relatively healthy alternatives to stereotypical "African American food," truly show how different the Johnsons are from the stereotype. In in end, Dre reveals to Jay that everything was all an act.
From Black-ish to Modern Family to stand up comedy, TV shows use comedy to show how ridiculous racial stereotypes are. Sometimes, even exaggerating a certain stereotype is what it takes to prove how absurd a stereotype is. Many stand-up comedians are incredibly racist in some of the jokes they tell. However, it is hard to get offended because the jokes are intended to be funny and not offensive. Black-ish articulates that racial stereotypes about African American families are entirely false and unjustifiable.

1 comment:

  1. This show is great, and I think a lot of what makes is good you have captured in your blog. The Awareness this show displays is perfect and hilarious and I think your analysis is spot on.