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The Race Card: Ethnicity on TV


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#1

Castro

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Posted Jan 1, 2004 @ 10:43 AM

"Generation Ethnically Ambiguous.": looks to me like the way to go. Reduce the divisions to matters of class and economic status and at least we reduce the the ways to make people "Others." Unless, of course, religion is becoming the new troublemaker.

Edited by TWoP Howard, Apr 12, 2012 @ 9:18 PM.

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#2

KatrinaJ

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Posted Jan 1, 2004 @ 12:20 PM

I wasn't sure if this should go in this thread or the religion thread, but since it has to do more with personalities, I stuck with this thread. Anyway...

I'm always half amused/half annoyed by something on television. In general, the freak or geek turns out to be Jewish. There's Paris (Gilmore Girls), Grace (Joan of Arcadia), Will (BtVS). I'm sure there's plenty of others. While these characters are fun and interesting, we are not all neurotic/nerdy/weirdos! Why isn't the most popular girl in school the Jew? Or just a regular person the Jew? At least there are some, like Ephram and Delia on Everwood, who are pretty normal kids.
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#3

Blake

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Posted Jan 1, 2004 @ 12:25 PM

Just wanted to add Ross and Monica Geller. My family is Jewish, and for some reason my dad maintains that Rachel Green is as well. Maybe it's cause she seemed so JAP-like (is that an offensive term? Someone tell me if it, please) at first.
Rhoda on "Mary Tyler Moore" was Jewish too, wasn't she?
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#4

deerstalker

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Posted Jan 1, 2004 @ 4:52 PM

As evidence of the trend, Ms. Koseff exhibited a selection of "casting breakdowns," descriptions from television producers of roles to be filled. "Sarah, 16 to 18 years old. Light complexioned African-American. Could be part Brazilian or Dominican," read one request from CBS for its daytime serial "As the World Turns." "Zach, 12 to 14, African-American. Zach's father is Caucasian," stated another, from the producers of "Unfabulous," a pilot for Nickelodeon.


Taken from the NYT article Castro linked to. I don't if the article is highlighting a new trend. It seems to me to have always been an advantage for those who are members of the darker minority groups to look "racially ambiguous". Casting agents are looking for light-skinned black women now? That is hardly new, turn on any music video since the inception of the form and you can see that. Or is the new thing that these light-skinned actresses are taking the place of what used to a pure white domain?
It still seems to me like "Othering" and fetishizing people, because now their looks are so "exotic". I'm not sure if that is an improvement, or just a fad, and a quick shift in focus.

Edited by deerstalker, Jan 1, 2004 @ 4:53 PM.

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#5

arc

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Posted Jan 1, 2004 @ 4:59 PM

A few months (or more?) I mentioned here that I'd swear I caught a moment or two that showed Rachel wasn't Jewish... and I've now found corroborating evidence. The article is interesting reading besides that. (Anyways, yay me! I'm not imagining moments that never happened on Friends!)
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#6

mimsy61

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Posted Jan 2, 2004 @ 7:18 PM

I don't mind the Nike in Church commercial but I'm so old I don't know who the players are. They need some captions for the athletically challenged like myself.

HBO has great shows about sports.Kareem Abdul Jabbar is featured and he says his shy and aloof personality has stopped him from his dream of coaching in the NBA. The Lakers could throw him a bone.

Since my guilty pleasure is "The Parkers", I've also been enjoying "Girlfriends" despite Diana Ross' daughter's bulging eyes. I like their friendships and the scripts were well written.On "The Tracy Morgan Show", I can't stand the sassy younger son but Heavy D looks darn good. He can change his mane to Medium Sized D. I still like to watch "Sanford and Son". It had all the sitcom staples-grouchy dad,patient son, clueless cops, irritated neighbors,wacky friends, ugly relatives.
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#7

cgchimes

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Posted Jan 3, 2004 @ 4:08 PM

OK, having read the explanations of the Lebron commercial, I don't hate it as much anymore.
It still doesn't make me want to buy Nikes, but there's really nothing in the world that could ;-)
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#8

LittleEva

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Posted Jan 3, 2004 @ 5:28 PM

OK, having read the explanations of the Lebron commercial, I don't hate it as much anymore.
It still doesn't make me want to buy Nikes, but there's really nothing in the world that could ;-)


I don't and never did get the hatred of that commercial; I thought it was a scream. And BTW, if it don't say NIKE, I don't put them on my feet.

I know this is OT but I don't get the hatred of sports stars; look, they've got God given talent and they can do something I sure as hell can't so I hope they make all the $$$$ they can while they can make it.
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#9

Kilgore Trout

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Posted Jan 4, 2004 @ 10:57 AM

"The Iceman" from the old Reebox (I think) commercials - I guess he was a former baller.

The Iceman could flat out play.

The one thing I like about the commercial is that it's about his "court vision". Still to this day, I think black players are portrayed as being far superior in running and jumping, while whites are still portrayed as smart, good passers and jump-shooters. And the NBA tends to promote the dunkers. But they kinda make James ham up the passing.

Sipowicz on NYPD Blue was a "nuanced" racist, and Archie Bunker was the prototypical nuanced racist, I think.

I thought this was a great point that wasn't explored. TV always portrays race issues as clear-cut, when its much more complex. Racism (years ago the term "prejudice" was also used) runs the gamut overt to very subtle. And people are often very contradictory depending on the circumstance. But TV rarely shows these dicotomies.
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#10

jennypenny

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Posted Jan 5, 2004 @ 10:32 AM

Re: the church and basketball courts issues . . . part deux

My old church bought the Forum (where the Lakers played before there was a Staples Center)


Ok, I was wondering about this because I read the latest Eric Jerome Dickey book and he mentioned this church in the book. He didn't mention it by name, but some of the ways he described the choir, pastor and various church members had me cracking up and it made me wonder if this church existed. Heh.
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#11

michelec

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Posted Jan 5, 2004 @ 11:37 AM

I still like to watch "Sanford and Son". It had all the sitcom staples-grouchy dad, patient son, clueless cops, irritated neighbors, wacky friends, ugly relatives.


Yep, thank goodness for TV Land. The show is still funny, and I don’t understand why everybody hates on the Grady episodes so much (the “wild parsley” and “orgy” episodes are in my top 10 faves). Though I will say that Redd Foxx coming back from his contract dispute is a definite turning point, in that some of the episodes have really dumb plots (Junkman’s convention in Hawaii 3-parter? Need I say more?) and Demond Wilson starts phoning in his acting. Still, if TV Land had a Sanford-Jeffersons back-to-back hour, I’d be in hog heaven.
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#12

rlb8031

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Posted Jan 5, 2004 @ 1:57 PM

Re: the Lebron Nike commercial

I hate it and have hated it since the first time I saw it.

First of all it strikes me as being fairly sacrilegious. I'm not a religious person at all, but it just seems like this parody is so far over the top that its offensive to folks that are religious.

Secondly, the whole thing really smacked of cooning to me. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it is so over the top. But I can't help but think that if Lebron James were a white guy with the same nickname, the same commercial would not have been made. Even though there are some white Baptist and Pentecostal churches that swing and jump just as much as black ones.

Or if James were Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or any other organized religion, would you have seen him slam dunking in the middle of temple with a bunch of guys in yarmulkes shouting in the aisles, or whatever the appropriate religious reference is? It just seems like the church full of folks falling out in the aisles is just another tv/movie shorthand for "black folks", and one that always seems to be less about praise and worship and more about showing out.

It's like the people that put these things together say "Okay what do black folks like? Sneakers and church" (or sneakers and rap, or fried chicken and sneakers, or fried chicken and rap, or malt liquor and church and the list goes on and on...) and they stick them together to entertain or sell or entice without taking into account the complexity of any ethnic group. Its easy and simple and insulting as hell to me.
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#13

Marla Singer

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Posted Jan 5, 2004 @ 5:47 PM

I like the LeBron commercial, mostly b/c of Bernie Mac. I only recognize a handful of the old time players. Who's the old white guy sitting in the deacon chair?
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#14

LeeLeeDiva

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Posted Jan 5, 2004 @ 10:45 PM

What are you all thinking about the Staples Rubber Band Man commercial? There was some brief discussion of it in the commercial thread, but I wanted to bring it up here since I just saw it for the first time over the weekend. Cooning, or just damn funny?
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#15

kidcore

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 1:04 AM

I have to go with damn funny. I just saw it for the first time last week and as much as I tried to dissect it in my head and pinpoint all the negative imagery and stereotypical representations, I just couldn't find it in my heart to hate the commercial. I found myself beaming by the end of it. The guy is funk-ay. I'm not going to take it too seriously because I think what shines through isn't some black man shuckin and jivin just to entertain white audiences. It's just a guy who knows how to get down on it and he's having fun for himself. It's like that black guy from the old Joe Boxer commercials. Just because we're dancing on tv doesn't mean we're cooning.

The more I thought about it too the more I realize that it's harmful to feel like we always have to erase these images from tv. There are people out there with big afros and superfly dance moves. There will always be someone who embodies stereotypes because that's just the way they naturally are (see my favorite nellies on Queer Eye). Aren't we invalidating their experience by telling them they're not a positive representation of black folks? Sure we need balance but damn the brotha is doin' this thing in that commercial and I'm not mad at him.

Edited by kidcore, Jan 6, 2004 @ 1:05 AM.

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#16

xaxat

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 1:51 AM

I like the LeBron commercial, mostly b/c of Bernie Mac. I only recognize a handful of the old time players. Who's the old white guy sitting in the deacon chair?


I'm not sure if this is who you are refering to, but the white guy next to Doctor J is Jerry West. Currently he is the General Manager of the Memphis Grizzlies. He is one of the best to ever lace up the high tops and it is the person who they based the NBA logo on.
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#17

FfrauleinN

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 9:40 AM

What are you all thinking about the Staples Rubber Band Man commercial? There was some brief discussion of it in the commercial thread, but I wanted to bring it up here since I just saw it for the first time over the weekend. Cooning, or just damn funny?

Just damn funny. Until the song gets stuck in your head, and then it's annoying. I think kidcore was right to compare it to the Joe Boxer guy.
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#18

raramama

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 9:45 AM

Yep, thank goodness for TV Land. The show is still funny, and I don’t understand why everybody hates on the Grady episodes so much (the “wild parsley” and “orgy” episodes are in my top 10 faves).

You forgot, Cousin "I'm gon' make you a nice biiiiiig breakfast" Emma! That one and the wilg parley eppys rock. I love when he feeds the salad to Aunt Esther and Rollo was always good for a laugh.

Edited by raramama, Jan 6, 2004 @ 9:46 AM.

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#19

rlb8031

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 1:07 PM

Funny enough, I don't have any problem with the Rubber Band Man commercial. That's a commercial where the race of the actor is completely not an issue. The same exact commercial could have been made with a white actor or an asian actor or someone of any other race. I guess my problem with the Nike commercial is that race such a huge part of that commercial. The whole dynamic of that commercial would be different if the ball player coming in the gym was white and not black. I feel like folks would say "What the f%*@?" if that were the case.
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#20

silentbob

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 1:56 PM

Wow, I never expected that the LeBron James "church" commercial could be interpreted as racial pandering. My reaction is along the lines of what Kilgore Trout said above. LeBron is one of the biggest stars in basketball right now (and doing even better than expected), where the best players have almost always been glorified for their scoring, dunking, etc. LeBron, however, is different -- he can dunk and score, but prides himself on his ability to pass and make his teammates better. The Nike commercial is simply playing up that fact.
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#21

Marla Singer

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 2:01 PM

I'm not sure if this is who you are refering to, but the white guy next to Doctor J is Jerry West.


Thanks xaxat!
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#22

LeeLeeDiva

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 3:08 PM

Sure we need balance but damn the brotha is doin' this thing in that commercial and I'm not mad at him.


Word, kidcore. I agree with you and Fraulein and I LOVED the Joe Boxer commercial. My coon-dar is ridiculously low, I guess, but I took no offense at either commercial.

rlb, you make great points about the LeBron James commercial. I still don't find it offensive but now I'm pondering what you said about the alternate scenario of LeBron being Muslim, Jewish, etc. and the commercial taking place in a temple of mosque. Can't see that happening. However, I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Can't we all make fun ourselves if we want (that's a hypothetical question)? In today's climate there's no way that type of commerical could take place in a mosque and I think that's unfortunate. I'm all for being PC (and it typically irritates me when some folks complain about the insurgence of political correctness), but there can be a difference between PC and the ability to poke fun at oneself and one's religion/ethnicity/race, etc.

And because I can't shut up about this...

This morning I watched BET for about 15 minutes. In that timeframe, between the ass-a-thon that comprises music videos these days, I saw three, yes three separate commercials for organizations that will help you straighten out your raggedy-ass credit. WTF? I was irritated. Are the majority of black folks in that big of a need for credit-rehab, or were those the companies most willing to pay for the airtime on BET? And if black folks are among the biggest consumers in the US, why wouldn't every company and its mama be lined up for advertising time on BET?

Okay. Rant over.

Edited by LeeLeeDiva, Jan 6, 2004 @ 3:10 PM.

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#23

FfrauleinN

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 3:16 PM

My apologies, but "raggedy-ass credit" makes me laugh. To be fair, those are typical daytime ads; you'll find them running during Springer and Ricki Lake too. I guess they figure if your ass is home watching the BET ass-a-thon or talk shows in the middle of the day, you might want to work on your credit. Or go to technical school. Or get your phone reconnected.
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#24

mimsy61

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 3:25 PM

I've never had bad 'credick' and the commercials bug me. Instead of trying to fix up the broke ass credit, they need to run commercial about using cards with common sense. During the day (according to the commercials), I can be a medical assistant, get a big settlement from Larry Parker or get quick testing.

I just wish BET was a much better channel but I also wish fat meat wasn't greasy.
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#25

rlb8031

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 3:48 PM

It's funny that you mention the "raggedy-ass credit" commercials. There is a company in NY calles BuCCS, that's run by a brother by the name of Luther Gatling. He used to do these segments on a local morning news show where folks would call in to ask him how to fix their credit. The callers were usually about 70-30 white to non-white. However, I only ever heard the commercials for BuCCS on black radio stations. Luther was really on the mark and used to read folks for their lazy credit habits "You need to cut up those cards". The anchors on the show loved him and he was a semi-regular apprearing once or twice a month. Point being that white audiences are probably seeing the same types of pitches just in a different format (without the cheese and the beats)
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#26

jennypenny

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 4:14 PM

Point being that white audiences are probably seeing the same types of pitches just in a different format (without the cheese and the beats)


Oh they do. Just like FfraulienN said, they come on during shows that aren't necessarily targeted towards a white audience, but they'll use white people (or black, depending on which commercial is run) on your big three networks during the day, but on channels that are geared towards a specific crowd they'll stick with what the demographic is. Like I was watching MTV most of last week while I was off work and during the day you'll see ads for a totally different genre of music, but at night you'll see that "Tha Down Low" cd ad a trillion and one times. (Is it sad that I kind of want to buy it? It is? Just checking...)

The whole dynamic of that commercial would be different if the ball player coming in the gym was white and not black. I feel like folks would say "What the f%*@?" if that were the case


Ya know, I don't see that as ringing totally true, imo. I only say that because I can totally see Yao Ming in the same commercial with no one batting an eye. Well, maybe a few, but I don't see much of a difference. Maybe people would be offended if the player was white, but if that player was getting the same press as LeBron or Yao, I don't think it would smart quite so much. YMMV though.

Edited to Add

Or if James were Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or any other organized religion, would you have seen him slam dunking in the middle of temple with a bunch of guys in yarmulkes shouting in the aisles, or whatever the appropriate religious reference is?


No, but then again, I've never seen anyone inside of a Temple, Mosque or whatever Buddhists worship in, speak above anything other than a normal speaking voice. Well, maybe in a Mosque, but their views are different from that of a Baptist, Pentecostal, etc. church (which is what I think the commercial was parodying) and I know they worship a bit differently than those mentioned above. I've never seen people catch the Holy Ghost or speak in tongues, I've never seen a choir "jam" and I've never seen people shout Hallelujah! and Glory to God!. I have seen all of these thing done at a Baptist and Pentecostal church. So yes, while it was a parody of the church, it wasn't done in a mean spirited way and I definitely didn't see it as cooning. However, your definition of cooning and mine probably differ. I felt that "Martin's" last 2 seasons were at his cooning worst. Not to say that some of the earlier eps didn't smart of cooning (revolving the entire episode around a mouse, anyone?), but those last seasons were just bad.

Edited by jennypenny, Jan 6, 2004 @ 4:26 PM.

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#27

Sylph

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 4:20 PM

My apologies, but "raggedy-ass credit" makes me laugh. To be fair, those are typical daytime ads; you'll find them running during Springer and Ricki Lake too. I guess they figure if your ass is home watching the BET ass-a-thon or talk shows in the middle of the day, you might want to work on your credit. Or go to technical school. Or get your phone reconnected.


Or you need a lawyer. They replay the same commercials everyday to the point where you know the phone numbers by heart.
I have a rant of my own to make. I said this in the Las Vegas thread but I thought it would be appropriate to bring it here. [rant]Why is it that anytime a person with dreads is on television, they are automatically Jamaican? Some Jamaicans don't have dreads, don't all sell/smoke weed, or sing reggae songs. Are there no other countries in the Caribbean that might be acknowledged? (There are many that don't have an island starting with the letter "J") On last night episode of Las Vegas, these guys that stole a prosthetic leg (don't ask) all had dreads with the caps and their leader had the fakest beyond fake Jamaican accent. My ears were bleeding from hearing this guy talk. With all the West Indians that live in the US (and there are a lot of us), could they not have hired a West Indian actor to do the job? Hell, I would have taken a Trinidadian or Bajan rather than the JaFakin that was on my screen. It irritates me to no end.[/rant off]
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#28

FfrauleinN

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 4:33 PM

Heh, "JaFakin." That's a good one.

Are there no other countries in the Caribbean that might be acknowledged?

Hey, there are no other countries in the Caribbean. What bugs me is how people with dreads are always from the freaking Carribean, a.k.a. Jamaica.

"Tha Down Low" cd ad a trillion and one times. (Is it sad that I kind of want to buy it? It is? Just checking...)

Does anybody know why "Crossroads" is included in this compilation? I'm asking in earnest. Isn't the theme supposed to be romance or something?
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#29

jennypenny

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 4:40 PM

Does anybody know why "Crossroads" is included in this compilation? I'm asking in earnest. Isn't the theme supposed to be romance or something?


Well, the theme is romance, but "Tha Down Low" means that you're trying to keep a romance under wraps so that no one else will know. That's why I don't understand why "Crossroads", "On Bended Knee" and a variety of other songs are on there. How about Kelly Price's "Secret Love" or hell, I'd even understand Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?" or SOMETHING other than Crossroads.

[rant]Why is it that anytime a person with dreads is on television, they are automatically Jamaican? Some Jamaicans don't have dreads, don't all sell/smoke weed, or sing reggae songs. Are there no other countries in the Caribbean that might be acknowledged?


This bugs me too. Not just for the Jamaican aspect but because I'd be hard pressed to find another person of color wearing dreads who aren't of any West Indian descent, they just wear them because they don't want any chemicals in their hair or for various other reasons. I can think of Malcolm Jamal Warner and maybe a few other men and women on tv, but that's about it.
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#30

FfrauleinN

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Posted Jan 6, 2004 @ 4:41 PM

Toni Morrison, unless I'm just making that up.
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