“Black and White in Mayberry”
“They didn’t come across as being racist,” my dad said.
They didn’t give themselves the opportunity. Only one black actor—Rockne Tarkington—ever had a speaking role on “The Andy Griffith Show.” The story went like this: Opie was starting piano lessons. Aunt Bee was into it, but Andy wasn’t too keen. Opie then met the cool new football coach who was a black ex-NFL player. Opie suddenly found himself conflicted! Football or piano? My dad remembered this storyline clearly. (“I didn’t miss too many episodes, Shani-o.”)
Our conversation slipped into reminiscences of all the all-white shows we have known, and whether we are better off with showrunners pretending that people of color didn’t exist. “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke”—other much-loved staples of that era in our household—would occasionally take a crack at edgier storylines involving race or gender. At best they were ham-fisted; at worst, downright racist.
All-white can sometimes be all right: “The Andy Griffith Show” didn’t have a chance to be particularly racist because it didn’t try for anything beyond sweet simplicity.
These are 50-year-old (or 100-year-old? 1,000-year old?) trade-offs. I must consider the whiteness of “Girls” and “Bunheads” and why Barney almost never sleeps with black women on “How I Met Your Mother” and why “Friends” was set in an impossibly white Manhattan and why the only black girl on “Buffy” was killed in season two and why Mercedes on “Glee” has to be so damn sassy and why Shonda Rhimes is the only showrunner regularly casting people of color in roles that aren’t explicitly People of Color. Or I must opt out altogether and hit up the black internet’s impressive collection of web series.
Personally, I never watched the Andy Griffith Show (when it came on Nickelodeon after Nick, Jr. was over I was overcome with boredom due to the black and white and refused to watch). But I still appreciated the mentions of how modern day mainstream television is still very much white.
Read the rest on The Awl.
Something to think about?
The Twin Cities have the highest level of racial disparity in unemployment in the country, according to a study released on Monday. The Economic Policy Institute found that African-Americans in the Twin Cities metropolitan area were 3.3 times as likely to be unemployed as whites in 2011—the highest level of disparity among 19 major metropolitan areas in the nation.
Christina Wessel, “Deep racial disparities in unemployment persist in the Twin Cities”
What can be done to change this?
I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a human being. Therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people don’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a public place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, “He’s a human being; don’t stop him.” That bill was for the white man, not for me. I knew I could vote all the time and that it wasn’t a privilege but my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived. So somebody had to write a bill to tell white people, “When a black man comes to vote, don’t bother him.” That bill was for white people.
Stokely Carmichael (via iwasabearonce)
Something to think about! What are your thoughts?
(Source: anthraxjackson, via ethiopienne)