Before I begin, I would like you to take a look at many of the movies and shows that have been filmed over the years and I ask you, “What do they have in common”? As a matter of fact, lets take a very brief look at a few right now.
Pat Conroy (Voight), an educator, is assigned to Yamacraw Island located off the coast of South Carolina to teach African-American students who are extremely poor, very illiterate and know nothing outside of the world they live in. He teaches them not only basic academic skills but about the ‘American’ holidays, cultures and even takes them trick-or-treating. He is eventually fired but as he leaves the children’s lives he’s touched come to wish him farewell. Feel good story right?
Reeves is a compulsive gambler who owes $6,000 to two bookies in a bet that he lost. His only income is coaching a latchkey boys baseball team from Chicago’s Cabrini Green projects. At the beginning, he’s only interested in getting his weekly check. He shows characteristics detaching himself from the team. He leaves them to find their way home, comes in late to practices, and even walked out on them to place another bet. Eventually he grows on them and they do him. They develop a strong bond and he guides them to the championship despite tragedy striking at the end. Smiles all around right?
‘Diff’rent Strokes’ (TV series)
Starring: Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Conrad Bain, and Dana Plato
Phillip Drummond (Bain), a wealthy park Avenue businessman, takes in brothers Arnold and Willis Jackson (Coleman and Bridges) whose mother worked as a maid for Drummond. After she dies, he soon adopts them and along with his daughter Kimberly, live as one big happy family in his mansion relishing in a lavish lifestyle.
Michael Oher coming from an impoverished background is adopted by Sean and LeAnn Tuhoy (McGraw and Bullock). Growing up with his drug addicted mother, he’s moved from different foster homes running away from each one. While in school Michael befriends their son Sean Jr. and is then introduced to Sean’s mother Leann.
Later in the film Michael spends the night, then Thanksgiving and eventually becomes part of the family. The family, along with his coaches help hone his skills in the classroom and on the gridiron and he soon becomes a force to be reckoned with. He’s later accepted into Ole Miss for college and is eventually drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
There are other Movies/Tv shows and sitcoms that seem to have the same theme. Have you noticed? How about ‘Webster’, where a young African-American boy is adopted by a former NFL player and his socialite wife living in upscale Chicago Illinois. I’m not going to go into too many more movies or shows but you get the picture.
Now for every ‘Lean On Me’ there are movies like ‘Freedom Writers’ and ‘Dangerous Minds’ where a Caucasian female teacher comes in to rescue inner city youth and teach them reading and writing. It’s sad enough that in society African-Americans whether by choice or birth are already at disadvantages.
So here is just a question to ponder: Why or how is it that Hollywood portrays them as people who can’t make it on their own without the help of a Caucasian man or woman? I understand movies are scripted and all, but imagine the morale of the average Black person watching these movies feeling like, “Man there’s no hope for us. Can WE ever have a rebel or savior in the movies” ? They [people of color], for the most part, are made to look inferior or buffoonish and in many instances can’t stand on their own.
Life even imitates art as well. I have a close friend who works in an inner city alternative school and when a child becomes ‘out of sorts’, or becomes “unsafe” the big burly African-American staff are there to do restraints, but when it comes to the children looking for jobs, programs, or anything to enhance their growth it seems those same staff are nowhere to be found. They are replaced by the ‘softer’ more enabling Caucasian staff who are there to “make a difference” in a child’s life.
Now before I go any further, I have nothing against Whites (or any race of people for that matter) nor am I spewing sour grapes, but it just seems that on the big screen and in society African-Americans have to take a back seat. And please don’t get started on the, “But we have a black president” bit. This is just something I was pondering so I figured I’d rant about it. It just seems like one too many shows or movies to be considered just a coincidence.
What are your thoughts? What impact does this have if any at all? When faced with life’s adveristy and dire straits, who do you call? And also can you think of any other examples of this sort of portrayal?