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Living in White America: Breaking the Stereotype Part 1

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It’s no secret that the media tends to portray negative stereotypes about minorities. That being said, it’s important to give acknowledgment to parts of the media that gives a positive portrayal or at least spins the negative stereotype around.

Recently, a lot of the shows that I have been watching have one thing in common. They have positive portrayals of certain minorities. So I have decided to give credit where credit is due. Now the portrayals aren’t perfect as there are still some issues with the characters but the fact that TV shows are even giving these positive portrayals is a good thing.

For the next few articles of this column, I will be looking at gender and race and highlighting a few characters from different TV shows. First up, I will be looking at the black male. Click here to see some stereotypes.

Joe West, The Flash, CW 

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Stereotype Broken: The Absent Father

Joe West, portrayed by Jesse L. Martin, is a police man at the Central City Police Department. He is the father of Iris West and the foster father of Barry Allen. Joe and his daughter were left by Iris’ mom and Joe’s wife leaving, Joe to raise Iris alone. He then becomes the foster father of Barry Allen after Barry’s dad goes to jail. (Not a spoiler, you find this out in like the first episode.) The show flipped the role of the father leaving by having Joe be the one to have to take care of his daughter.

Then they did another solid by having a white kid see Joe West as a father figure. Barry’s dad is alive and he doesn’t need to see Joe as a father but he does. Joe isn’t the absent black father instead he’s just a father. Which is a good thing to see especially since on most shows with black families, the father is excluded from the narrative.

John Diggle, Arrow, CW

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Stereotype Broken: The Black Best Friend

John Diggle, played by David Ramsey, is a former bodyguard and best friend to Oliver Queen. However, he isn’t the “black best friend.” The black best friend is someone whose entire existence revolves around their white counterpart. John Diggle is not that. Not only does he have his own storylines apart from his storyline with Oliver but he isn’t there to solve all of Oliver’s problems and he doesn’t drop everything the second Oliver needs him. The reason this is important is because a lot of times the black man is simply there to be a helpful guide for the white person. To lend a hand when the going gets “tough.”

The relationship between John and Oliver is generally equal. John does help out Oliver more than Oliver helps John but that has more to do with the fact that Oliver is the main character and all the villains want to kill him. Seeing a black man as more than a BBF, black best friend, is refreshing to see since pretty much anything you watch involves a black best friend so that the white main character doesn’t seem racist.

For all the shows I watch, these were the ones that stood out to me as positive. I’m sure there’s many more and I really do hope that there is. However, for all the positives that I see there are at least three negative that I see. The point of showcasing these positive portrayals is because it’s important to know that not everything displayed is negative and that there are people who are trying to make a difference by displaying positive portrayals.

This is the eleventh article of the column titled “Living in White America.” Every month there will be a new article discussing how minorities live in America. This column will have articles dealing with anything and everything that concerns the under-represented groups of White America. This could include political and social talks. Some articles may discuss cultures of different groups and interviews with a variety of people including those of the racial majority. Discrimination against everybody but the racial majority has gone on long enough and now it’s time people get a look into the worlds of those they dislike so much. 

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