African Americans and Americans who aren't often see things in fundamentally different ways as the recent diaries about certain representations of President Obama made clear.
And people over a certain age and people under a certain age also won't see things the same way.
Movie director, Spike Lee, made a movie over a decade ago called "Bamboozled." It was about minstrelsy -- the exaggerated impersonation of African Americans for entertainment, which was a mainstay of mainstream media from it infancy,
"Bamboozled" is a great but imperfect film. The sequences recreating minstrelsy are brilliant. The story they are embedded in is less than brilliant.
But one of the most brilliant things Lee did was to start the film with a montage of mainstream film images of African Americans.
This montage is what mainstream television was like before the mid 1960s. Yes, watch this and realize: This is how black Americans were represented on television. This is what black children the age of Barack Obama watched on television.
It's kind of unfortunate that because these representations are now unacceptable, you don't see them and younger people don't realize that this is what the mainstream media was like. We have purged and censored our media of what our media was like.
But any person of color over the age of about 45 will remember that this is how we were represented day after day on television until a few reformers introduced new images. By the late 1960s, there was the TV series "Julia," about a single mom, a nurse, played by Diahann Carroll. Allegedly she had to be single because America wasn't ready for a black family, and especially not for a black man. There was the communications officer of the Star Ship Enterprise, Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols. Then there was the ground breaking sitcom about a Queens, New York bigot, Archie Bunker, created by Norman Lear, in which the Bunkers had a black family as neighbors, the Jeffersons, who eventually got their own spin off sitcom.
But this is no joke or exaggeration.
Spike Lee got it right.
This is what black people looked like on television before Diahann Carroll, Nichelle Nichols and The Jeffersons.