Is any likeness enough?
By likeness, I’m referring to representation. Even though we in the African diaspora have to deal with so much, I’ve noticed when an all white cast needs some “flavour,” we are the first seasoning to be added.
Unfortunately, not all of that visibility is positive.
Racist characters and minstrel shows didn’t actually include Black people, just white folks in blackface. They perpetuated stereotypes about us that still seep through.
From the strong simple one (not too bright), to the sassy funny one (the entertainer,) these tropes have been used again and again to “add diversity” but not really because they’re the same characters just different productions.
One of the most ironic roles I see Black people cast in are judges and cops. We are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system so instead of addressing that, casting directors put us in complete fiction? Like what is that?
Thankfully there have been many gems in the rough.
Sitcoms featuring all Black casts were essential to me growing up because no matter if they were based in NYC, San Francisco, or Chicago, I found them to be relatable to my own family.
Another place I love to see Black excellence in is my favorite genre sci fi. Virgil, Ororo, Uhura, Finn, Bill, Michael, among so many others! Not to mention the afro futurism delight that is “Black Panther.”
Over the years I’ve definitely seen growth. Black individuals are given more depth and playing lead roles in blockbusters. Hoping that behind-the-scenes representation grows as well. Also hoping that other underrepresented groups are given multifaceted opportunities too.
Have you seen a shift in characters looking like/being more relatable to you?