Thursday, July 7, 2011


Today I watched a documentary on the first all black cast tv show 'Amos and Andy'.  This past June the show turned 60 years old.  If you have never heard of the show, it's excusable.  The show has not been seen in syndication since 1966.  The NAACP had it banned from tv forever because they felt it portrayed black people in a "negative light."  Well, I got to see an episode and I have to admit that I did not share the same conclusion with the NAACP.  So I have to ask, was it really necessary for the NAACP to ban this show?
Let's remember that the show was made in the 1950's, not the most political correct era.  The premise of the show was Kingfish was always doing these get-rich-quick schemes and most of the time he would dupe Andy in the scheme.  Amos was the narrator in the show.  Let it be known that none of the actors or actresses in the show ever felt degraded while playing these characters. They were actually proud to be on a show where black people were being depicted as professionals rather than maids and butlers.  Were they being silly and exaggerated?  Well of course, it's a comedy!  Ernestine Wade, the actress who played Sapphire, brought out the point that you don't watch a comedy to be educated.  Marla Gibbs, best known as Florence on The Jeffersons and Mary on 227, also brought out that it was a good show and the show was not saying that this was how all black people acted.  But that we all knew someone who acted like these characters. 
Which brings me to my next point: was it really necessary to ban the show from tv forever? As stated before the NAACP fought CBS from the show's premier to get the show off the air.  They saw it as an extreme negative portrayal of black people.  What they did not see was a show that was making it possible for future shows like 'I Spy', 'The Cosbys', 'Family Matters' and 'The Game'.  They did not see a show that broke the stereotypes by providing roles to black performers where they were doctors, lawyers, and businessmen.  All they could see was black people being silly on television ( as I stated before the show was a comedy). 
When I watch television today I'm more appalled at what we allow on tv to represent black people ( Real Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives, Soul Plane).  All these shows set our race back a whole lot further than 'Amos and Andy'.   What the NAACP did was ban a part of black history.  I think the NAACP needs a sense of humor. 

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