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Posts Tagged ‘Different Strokes’


Last week our Congelese princess asked: “Mom, why aren’t there more black people in movies?”

It is a difficult question.

She, of course, watches kids movies. I’ve seen just about every movie she has. So I racked my brain.

Lucious Best a.k.a. Frozone is just about the only one who comes to mind. He was played by a black man, Samuel L. Jacksom.

Maybe Will Smith had a point.

Aren’t black children, and not just transracially adopted kids, an audience for kids’ movies? Don’t any black filmmakers make movies for kids?

TV shows aren’t too different. I think. My kids don’t watch much TV. If they do it is a show we DVRed or on Netflix.When I am home after lunch- their time to watch- I don’t see many or any black people.

In the shows I watch there aren’t many either. Certainly not representative of our population.

When I was a kid I regularly saw black people on TV. Sesame Street. Different Strokes. The Jeffersons. Good Times. What’s Happening. The Cosby Show. The Fat Albert Show. Not just a random character, but whole casts.

What happened?

In Democracy in Black, Eddie Glaude Jr. discusses the loss of black social structures. With the advent of cable television, some new ones rose. At least for a time. Much of the black programming moved to these less mainstream, edgier networks. They became less mainstream, and I suspect we are all the poorer for it.  Now we are lucky if a show has a black character or (gasp) two.

As a result, my children don’t regularly see people like them in movies or TV.  They are all the poorer because of it. I want them to see an integrated, not a segregated society. I want them to see black families.

Thankfully we have black friends. Our world is mostly white though.

But we may have to plunder TV Land for appropriate shows (probably not Sanford and Son).

So, any movie recommendations?

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