Black doctors, lawyers, and company managers are a common and on the rise in America today. Although America has broken some barriers and made progress in the past 200 years, American popular culture has lagged behind and still illustrates the damaging stereotype of the inferior, poor, gangster African American.
First of all, American popular culture shows whites superiority over blacks by confining them in a box of inferior identical roles. Since the founding of America, whites have thought blacks to be inferior and have always treated them as so. Even though we have come a long way of being slaves and discriminated against, blacks only get recognition by living in the past. For example, one of the best black actors in America is Denzel Washington. He is a dynamic actor, but most of his roles seem to be the same. As in his movie Meet the Titans where he was the head black coach of a foot ball team and had to overcome racial barriers in order to lead his team to success. Similarly, another Academy Award movie featuring a majority of black people is The Help. This movie is about black maids and they’re difficulty dealing with white masters. Like all the other dynamic movies featuring African Americans, it only gets recognition because of its dealings with race and slavery. As long as African Americans are stuck in these never ending racial roles, they will always be seen as inferior, and America will continue to lag behind.
Moreover, blacks are continually portrayed as poor or the classic rags to riches in American popular culture. In American history, when slaves were first freed they all had no property or jobs and could not acquire money or wealth. Therefore they were all known to be poor and on the bottom of the totem pole. Black Americans have long surpassed this stereotype and there are many successful and wealthy blacks. But American popular culture enforces the damaging stereotype that all blacks are poor, less wealthy, and if they are rich, they started off poor. For instance, there is a show entitled Everybody Hates Chris. This show is about a black family trying to live in a white world, and they’re struggles with fitting in. The dad in the show has two jobs, and is portrayed as cheap because he counts every penny his family spends. This show imposes the stereotype that blacks cannot keep up with whites and are always poor. Likewise a popular song that is catching on in American popular culture is Started from the Bottom by Drake. This song is very popular in the black community because Drake is speaking of how he started poor and with nothing in life, but now he has finally made it to the top and reached success. This is the story with many other artists in American popular culture such as Nicki Minaj, and they only help to show that blacks can never just be wealthy, but they had to struggle to get to where they are.
Finally, America continues to illustrate blacks in popular culture as the conventional criminal gangster type. It has known for years that if something went missing, or a crime occurred, the black person is usually always blamed first. And in the past cops have always been suspicious of black people, and that is where the term, “driving while being black” comes from. American pop culture does nothing but implement this image. Rappers such as Lil Wayne, Chief Keef, and T.I who only raps about all the gangs they are in, drugs they use, and guns they own add to this damaging image. These are the people young black boys look up to, and grow up to live this gangster stereotype. Chief Keef states in his song Love Sosa, “Fucking with them O-boys you gon’ get fucked over.” This means that if you mess with the people in his gang it will result in violence towards you, which usually involves guns and death. Also, in a movie I have yet to see, but is apparently every normal black persons favorite movie is entitled Friday. From what I heard this movie has a cast of a majority of blacks who all live in a bad neighborhood and are all “hustlers”. This movie being the choice of most black people causes them to live in the stereotype of black gangsters forever.
In conclusion, while America has shown progress since the times of slavery, we are still lagging and are stuck in an American popular culture which implements damaging stereotypes into our lives on a daily basis. Black young kids look for people who look like them in popular culture and if the only role models they see are the stereotypes popular culture presents, then they will grow up to live and believe in these lies. Not only is this damaging to the future of black Americans, it is damaging to the character and identity of the black race. As long as these stereotypes are upheld in American popular culture, America will always continue to lag behind and live in a world of damaging stereotypes.