This I Believe

Destiny - Vacaville, California
Entered on December 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe

When given this assignment I had no idea what to write about. Of course I believe in a number of different things, but none that I felt passionate enough to write an essay for. I was watching a show on BET recently, called We Got to Do Better, and they had a segment in the show where they ask people on the streets different questions. One of the questions was about how African Americans are portrayed on television, and the other was about the use of the n-word.

Black sitcoms have drastically changed from the shows “back in the day”, shows like The Jefferson’s, Good Times, What’s Happening and Amen. now we have shows like The Wire, I Love New York, Flavor Of Love that depreciate the black image, or at least the one that I have for myself. The old shows mentioned above were shows that portrayed the black family in a positive light. For example, in each episode of Good Times the Evans family had a particular issues or problem to deal with. They always go through it as a family, loving and lifting each other up. Some African- American sitcoms don’t even have the family exposed, they imply centered around drugs, gang violence, and killing, like The Wire.

Most of the credit belongs to the movies for devaluing the African American character. African Americans are always in “the hood” with shootings and gang violence, and drug dealings. A prime example of that type of setting is 1991 movie Boyz in tha Hood, staring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishborne. Now granted, these things do happen in bad neighborhoods, but if gang banging and drugs is what someone thinks of when thinking of African Americans, then that is not right.

What this whole thing boils down to is stereotyping. These images seen on television and in movies is a direct result of stereotyping. There is some truth to stereotyping; there are African Americans in gangs and involved with drugs and killing. All stereotypes come from some kind of truth, so you could say that the African american stereotype is true. But there are African Americans out there that are doing things with their lives. Getting educations, and making a better way for themselves and for their families.

To balance out the shows that are giving African Americans bad names, there are some good shows out now that canter around the family and being positive. My Wife and Kids, The Bernie Mac Show, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and many more. Unfortunately the good black sitcoms that were out in the nineties early two thousands are no more. People don’t want to see African Americans as role models, they would rather see them as the way they always have, gang bangers, and dope dealers. that’s why shows like The Wire last for multiple seasons and a show like In the House, which starred LL Cool J, last one season at the most.

I also believe that the n-word is used to frequently in television and in our everyday lives. Not just African American people saying it to each other, we have people of different ethnicities saying it, and feeling that it is ok to say it.

The n-word was a term used to belittle people of African descent. By using this word Caucasians and whoever else used it, were separating themselves from the “uneducated, incompetent, ignorant negro.” It seems as if the n-word has become more acceptable. The word has been introduced into the hip hop culture, so now it’s ok to use it when referring to our own people. African Americans have said that it doesn’t matter what our ancestors have endured to be able to put us in the position to succeed, because we use the word that our ancestors’ oppressors used against them, against ourselves. We are saying that the thousands of people who died standing up for the right to be seen as and American citizens, have died in vain. Yet we have African Americans who refer to other African Americans as the n-word. Those same people who use the n- word get upset when someone of another raise uses it towards them. I feel that we as black people can not get angry when a person of another race calls us the n-word, because we are showing them that it is ok to call us that by using it to refer to each other.

I believe that sometimes we Africans Americans are not allowing ourselves the room to grow as a race. We keep using the n-word, and as actors we take these roles that is the exact opposite of who we are. Until we realize that, then we will continue to be oppressed, not by another race, but by ourselves.