3 ?s on Race in America

PLEASE feel free to answer any and all.

1. In an article titled “TV Themes’ Swan Song” I read in TV Week, noted television critic Tom Shales writes:

Among the most curious juxtapositions of the early years was the heavenly a cappella chorus that opened and closed every episode of “Amos ‘n Andy,” now the least-seen classic in TV history. The show did traffic in African American stereotypes-most offensively with the characters of crooked lawyer Algonquin J. Calhoun and a lazy handyman named Lightnin’-but in fact, blacks from many social strata were featured on the program.

In one episode, the Kingfish is visited by two FBI men, and both of them are the same color as the Kingfish. Andy was Kingfish’s clueless stooge, but Amos the cab driver was an upright solid citizen. Whatever-it was that strangely unlikely theme song, wordlessly sung by a choir while graphics showed the New York skyline at night, that gave the show instant mythic stature, the aura of American fable.

To the best of my knowledge-admittedly inadequate-the theme dates at least as far back as D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” and, under the title “The Perfect Song,” was used to accompany many other “silent” films.

Bill Cosby is among the prominent African Americans who have said that “Amos ‘n Andy” can and should be shown now that its stereotypes are offset by the masterful intensity of its performances. But CBS keeps it under lock and lock, and yet another lock, and who even knows where the key is?

So, the first question: should Amos ‘n’ Andy be aired? In what manner? With caveats? Only late at night? Only on cable? Only available on video and/or DVD?

2. This I stole from an ABC News poll in June 2005:
“Have you personally ever felt that you were being discriminated against because of your race?”

3. From an AP poll from March 2003:
“How close do you think we are to eliminating discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities in America once and for all? Are we very close, fairly close, not too close, or not close at all?”

If you are a-mind to, please indicate your race.

I think I’ll post my answers on Monday. I don’t want to color your responses.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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