by Trina Williams-Emigh

MTV and VH1 are exploiting African-Americans in there “very popular” Flavor of Love, I Love New York, and Flavor of Love Charm School reality TV shows. These TV shows feature African-American’s in roles portraying exaggerated sexuality and violence, and the glorification of ignorance. For some odd reason the new generation of African-American entertainers, who have not only taken the liberty of dragging R&B and Hip Hop through the gutter with their suggestive lyrics and misogynistic videos; guess that wasn’t enough, have also decided to resurrect the “Minstrel show.”

Minstrel shows ran from the early 1800s to about the 1950s. These shows portrayed and lampooned blacks in stereotypical and often disparaging ways: as ignorant, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, joyous, and musical. What sets today’s minstrel show apart from its predecessor, is that today the actors are black instead of being white in “black face.”

In my opinion, the negative aspect of our socioeconomic existence, which is a direct result of us being former slaves, is being used as propaganda against us. The popularization of this “Blaxploitation” type entertainment pushes the African-American pursuit to equality back a millennium. With shows like these to represent us, we don’t need enemies to discredit us because we’re doing a damn good job of it ourselves.

Somehow I’ve never been able to accept the statements “know your history so you don’t repeat it, or “history repeats itself.” For one we repeat history, it does not repeat itself, and two we seem to repeat history no matter how much of it we already know. I say this only to give validation to some sort of reason why we may have resurrected ghosts that we (by we, I mean African-Americans) thought we had left behind. It seems to me that our revisiting of the “Blaxploitation” genre that reared its head in the 1970s, and the “Minstrel show” of the early 1800s is because we just can’t help repeating history.

Blaxploitation by Trina Williams-Emigh

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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