Everyone knows who Clark Kent is. Everyone knows who Superman is also. In fact one of my favorite cartoons growing up was the Super friends. As I was surfing the internet the other day I just so happened to come across it. I mean I had to have seen every episode of Super friends at least five times. I really loved that show. As I was watching, it hit me like a brick; there are no black super friends. As a kid I never paid attention to that fact, but now 40 years later it was painfully obvious.
After reflecting on that for a minute and began to think about all of my other cartoon shows from my childhood. The Jetsons, He-Man, The Flintstones, Spiderman, Scooby Doo, Popeye, etc. Most, if not all of the shows, lacked color. All of my favorite shows had white or white-ish characters. All of my heroes were white. All of the "people" that made me laugh were white. All of the people I looked forward to seeing on TV were white. I mean back then this was not really thought of as a big deal. It was the way of the world. Even today some may think this is not such a big deal. However with all of the information we have today about how impressionable children are, especially at that age, it should change that thinking.
I personally believe this goes a long way to why it seems challenging for some to support black men. For so long we have been shown images of black men as the bad guy or as criminals. To add to this fact, whenever I went to the doctor, or the dentist, I didn't see a person of color. Whenever I saw lawyers or judges, I didn't see people of color. 98 percent of my teachers growing up were white, and none of them were black men. So not only were my heroes on TV white but also in reality. It is easy to see how these perceptions of black men are formed. If negative images are played over and over of one race and positive images are played over and over for another race the result is predictable. There are some people who have never even met a black man but have a negative perception of them simply based on what they have been fed repeatedly. So the generation that I grew up with and viewed the shows I spoke about earlier, entered life and the workforce in this atmosphere. Now I am no way making excuses for anything but it would be irresponsible not to mention.
Some people feel more comfortable when a white person is in control, some feel more at ease when a white person is the boss, some people feel safer when more white people are around. Some people feel less threatened when white people are around. I have seen many of those same people immediately change their demeanor when a "threatening" black person enters the room. I will never forget when I was about 9 years old and my father worked in New Jersey as the manager of a store. He took my mother and me out to a white friend's house (John) for a cookout. This was about the 5th time we had been out there and John's daughter (Sarah) and I used to enjoy playing together. Everything went fine until as we were leaving that day Sarah said "daddy, Gerard is my boyfriend!" We never went back again. I never knew why until years later when my father told me about that incident. Although TV didn't provide that hero for me, my father did and made a huge impact on me finding that black hero in my life that I desperate needed. I fully believe that we as parents have to be that super hero to our children. Especially black parents, we cannot depend on TV providing that for us because most likely they won't. Let's go to those black doctors, and black lawyers and black businesses so are children can see that black people offer so much to this world and just not what is depicting in the media. I know for a fact to my two sons I am not Clark Kent, but I am SUPERMAN!!!!
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