Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Race Relations At The White House

In the season one episode of The West Wing, “A Proportional Response”, Sam Seaborn, the deputy chief of White House Communications  interviews Charlie Young, a young black man, to be the personal aide to the president. In the interview it is revealed that Charlie hasn’t been able to go to college despite having stellar grades and being incredibly smart and competent because he has had  to take care of his younger sister. He is the only one she has left since his mother was killed while on duty as a DC cop and they have no father. While Sam, Leo, the chief of staff, and President Bartlet all agree that they love him and he’d be perfect for the job, they hesitate to hire him, primarily because he is black. However, their main hesitation is that they don’t like the image of a young black man waiting on the president, an old white man, holding doors open for him, and carrying his bags.

While it seems innately wrong to not give somebody a job based on their race, their specific reasoning is somewhat complex and understandable to an extent; they don’t want to promote the image of a white master and a black servant. However, chief of staff, Leo McGarry, asks the opinion of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Fitzwallace, who is also black who tells him that the image wouldn’t bother him. He says that it’s an honor for anybody to serve at the pleasure of the president, so Charlie gets hired.

While the show buys into the stereotype that black fathers leave their children, Charlie is actually a really original and unique character. He’s dedicated, loyal, intelligent, and often sees things the older members of the white house staff doesn’t at first. That being said, he’s got a tough edge. In pretty much every situation where the president or the first family is in danger Charlie is the first one on the scene. While the show never directly dismantles stereotypes through Charlie, they show the relationship

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