Blacks on television: Seeing is not always believing

By Katie H.
St. Stephen High School
St. Stephen, New Brunswick

They are the shows that we all love to watch. We sympathize, laugh and encourage the violence we see on these shows. They are the highly educational television programming of talk shows like Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake.


They educate us about twisted love triangles, outrageous sex secrets and teach us more sexual education than the school curriculum. Unfortunately they are miseducating us about black people and are creating a trashy stereotype, that we, the naive small town folks accept.

I realize the following may come as a major cultural shock to some readers. Are you sitting down? Not every black woman is a bed-hopping, baby-popping, obsessive psycho. Most black men are not drug hustling, pimping gangsters. I know this may be hard for some people to realize, but there are black people who live moral and decent lives. They are lawyers, teachers, doctors and successful business people.

For many, this may come as a surprise because shows like Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake force-feed us this one stereotype. When we see black people on television, we watch them fight with words and actions. We see black people portrayed as pieces of trash who make nothing of their lives. We are too naive to believe that this is a stereotype used only to increase ratings.

You could walk down St. Stephen's main street for months, maybe even years without ever running into a black person. These talk shows are the only window for many of us to see the rest of the world. When the only black people we see are from these shows we have no reason to believe that we are being falsely informed.

The Caucasian people that are shown on these television talk shows are not glorified by any means. These guests are just white, trailer trash themselves, but we do not see all people of the white race as trailer trash. The reason behind this is because we interact with so many successful white people on a daily basis that we have no reason to think that they are all trash. We see so many white people we can't see the stereotype portrayed in these shows, but since we never have the opportunity to interact with successful black people we can not visualize them as being successful.

The next time you are flicking through the channels, do not even let your finger twitch as you flick right past Jerry Springer. You are now smarter than that and know the truth, seeing is not always believing.