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Racism in Media 1950s

In: Social Issues

Submitted By zeflara93
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ABC’s 1950’s sitcom, The Beulah Show, was the first television program to star an African American actress. Although this was, obviously, a historically groundbreaking sitcom, the plot did an injustice to blacks by portraying black characters as inferior to whites in almost every way (unless it be the ability to perform housework). One would only need to watch the first 5 minutes of an episode of the sitcom to see the racial inequalities at play. Would this sitcom have been written, or aired, Post-Civil Right Era? It is hard to imagine that. Other than the obvious differences between Beulah, Bill, and Oriole, Alice and Harry -- such as clothing, occupation, and wealth, there are other social differences portrayed in the episode, as well. Lets examine the scene in which Beulah is sitting at the table with Bill, and she tells him about a, “...new thing called ‘the economy’”. By referring to the economy as “new”, Beulah is portrayed as behind when it comes to every-day knowledge. Instead of reminding Bill that the two of them should be cutting down on expenses, she appeared to have been new to the practice of economizing, something that every “smart” person knows to do. Unlike the Hendersons who had a full-on conversation about how they were to economize in their home, Beulah and Bill owed their newfound knowledge to Harry. In contrast to the Henderson family who sit down for dinner, use proper silverware and plates, and speak in a volume / tone that is appropriate for the dinner-table, Beulah and Bill’s meals together lack such etiquette. As the scene in which Beulah and Bill were discussing the economy at the table ends, Bill is offered a plate by Beulah, but refuses to take the plate, and eats quickly from his hands as he walks away. This sends a message that blacks are without the manners that white families so devoutly practice in their home. In the episode,…...

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