In the introduction to this sketch from Season 2 of the Chappelle show, aired in 2004, Dave Chappelle recounts some of the negative feedback that he had received for presenting what he refers to as “racially charged sketches.” He concedes that stereotypical jokes can often lack subtly, and for this sketch, decides to reassess the idea that “white people can’t dance” – a stereotype often perpetuated by whites and blacks alike. Chappelle puts forth his hypothesis: white people can indeed dance as long as they’re listening to the right music. With help from guitarist John Mayer, Chappelle tests his hypothesis in a variety of settings, including a “control group” of Latino and African Americans. The final scene includes an “impromptu” encounter with a pair of police officers - one black and one white - and concludes with the maxim, “people of earth, no matter what your instrument, keep dancing.”
“Dear Young Man of Color” is a spoken word piece written and performed by poet Fong Tran that takes the form of a letter to young men of color, addressing systemic, institutional, interpersonal, internalized, and intersectional racial, gender, and class oppression. Speaking from the center of a group of young men of color standing with and framing him, Tran covers topics such as the criminalization of black and brown bodies, the impact of African American, Latino, Asian, and class stereotypes, cultural appropriation, intersectional race, class, and gender oppression, colonization, immigration, the school to prison pipeline, police brutality, and resiliency and activism against oppression. The text of his original poem can be found here.
This 2004 clip from Season 1, Episode 8 (“Guilty”) of Desperate Housewives depicts an overstressed mother of four young children pushed to the breaking point. While her kids bang on pots and pans, Lynette Scavo (played by Felicity Huffman) learns that her husband’s work will detain him much later than they’d originally planned. Powerless to retrieve her husband or quiet her children, Lynette breaks down and turns a gun on herself (aided by the ghost of recently deceased neighbor Mary Alice). SPOILER: Then she wakes up.
Produced by ATTN:, a social change news and media company, this one-minute video highlights negative and stereotypical representations of Black or African American women frequently seen in the media. Stereotypes discussed include the “Baby Mama,” the “Angry Black Woman,” Black women as “gold diggers,” uneducated or unrefined, and as “hoes.” In addition to a series of media clips showing examples of these stereotypes from various television shows and movies, prominent Black and African American women are shown speaking about the impact of these stereotypes. For example, First Lady Michelle Obama describes how the media have portrayed her as the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype since Barack Obama announced he was running for president. Between these clips, statistics are also featured on screen, including, “Only 41% of Black women see themselves depicted as beauties,” and “Negative images of Black women appear twice as frequently as positive ones.” This video aims to bring attention to these issues as well as discuss #blackgirlmagic, which became a hashtag trending in January-March of 2016. This hashtag is used to “illustrate the universal awesomeness of black women. It’s about celebrating anything we deem particularly dope, inspiring or mind-blowing about ourselves” and serves as a rallying point in support of women that are speaking back against these established stereotypes. This hashtag has spread, and many people have posted relevant photos and messages using the hashtag on several different social media sites.
Down for Life is a 2010 feature film directed by Alan Jacobs. The film follows Rascal, a Latina high school student enmeshed in Los Angeles gang life. The central conflict in the story concerns Rascal's future. As a gifted writer, Rascal has opportunities to leave Los Angeles but her neighborhood friends are pressuring her to stay. In the trailer, we see clips of Rascal in fights, being pursued by police, being chastised by her teachers not to squander her opportunities, and being threatened by fellow gang members not to leave. The connection to earlier films about young people of color struggling through poverty are made clear by titles that read, "A cross between Precious...and Boyz in the Hood." Rascal and her friends use the phrase "down for life" in multiple different contexts throughout the trailer: to affirm their friendships, the commitment to the gang, their lives in the neighborhood, and an inflexible set of values.