Recently, Netflix has acquired the rights to seven Black sitcoms showcasing the platform’s media diversity. Even though it’s celebratory that a few of the Black community’s favorite shows have been brought to one of the biggest streaming services, it is questionable as to why there are not as many Black sitcoms in the present day.
In the early 2000s, Black people were surrounded by shows such as “Sister, Sister”, “Martin,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” These shows gave Black Americans a chance to see themselves on television in a way that authentically reflected their daily lives.
Shows like “Girlfriends” explored the multi-dimensional aspects of Black female friendship and the struggles experienced in the characters’ personal and professional lives. Shows like “A Different World” highlighted the Black college experience and visualized the concept of what Black love is. Black sitcoms were a way of normalizing the Black experience.
As years have passed, it feels as if there has been an erasure of Black culture from television and the characters that are supposed to represent the community look less and less like those that surround them.
As a cultural shift in America occurs, and the demand for Black representation increases, the time for Black sitcoms is more crucial now than ever. People are looking to media to help clarify the chaos of the world and those who seek to better educate themselves use media as a tool.
There is misinterpretation of Black individuality circulating within the public, and the idea of Black life is often portrayed inaccurately. In modern day America, it has become normalized to see Black people as criminals rather than victims.
If the entertainment industry was to display positive imagery of Black people rather than portraying us as threatening and violent, then the chances of restoring empathy in the United States would be more of a possibility.
Normalizing the various parts of the Black American experience through visual representation will be a step towards humanizing us in a country that has a history of criminalizing and brutalizing us. It will cultivate change for future generations and inspire open individuality within the Black community.