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  • Writer's pictureChristine Kix

Why We Need Diverse Black Stories in Hollywood

Updated: Jan 4, 2022


The recent outcry over the lack of minority representation in Hollywood (#OscarsSoWhite) highlights the longstanding issue that there aren’t enough Black people on the silver screen and TV. But not only are we sparse in performances, when we do see Black people in film, we are regularly portrayed as stereotypical exaggerated caricatures. Loud, boisterous, sassy, angry, and hood, are a few adjectives that come to mind when I think about Black protagonists in many mainstream Black shows.

Chris Rock’s opening monologue at the 2016 Oscars, briefly touched on the lack of diverse roles for Black actors. Rock said, “If you want Black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories like Best Black Friend.” Rock’s observation is somewhat validated by data: according to an article on Venngage (6 Facts That Prove That The Oscars is More Racist Than You Think), a staggering 55% of all Oscar wins by non-White actors since 1980 have been stereotypical roles (stereotype categories defined as: “Maid / Mammy”, “Magical Negro”, “Jezebel / Sexpot”, “Thug”, “Sapphire”, “Latin Lover”, “Best Friend”, and “Noble Savage”). The most common winning roles were for: the “Slave / Mammy”, “Athlete”, “Magical Negro”, “Sapphire / Jezebel”, and the “Thug”. The statistics look even more bleak when you consider that 20% of non-White winning roles were for roles depicting real-life famous minorities, leaving just a mere 25% for non-stereotypical winning roles.

Media Matters … A lot!

Like a thirsty sponge, our brains soak up the images and stories that we’re exposed to, and there in our minds we create connections, identify patterns and formulate rules about the types of things that we’ve absorbed. Therefore, the way in which Black people are portrayed in mass media influences how other people see us. Scary thought for me when I consider Empire’s Cookie and RHOA‘s Nene Leakes because I’m nothing like these Black women (no shade). And while I do love a regular dose of ratchetness, those hyperbolic, and often one-dimensional, images of Blackness cause problems when they are projected onto you, an unsuspecting Black individual...

Excerpt from post originally published on Madame Noire.

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