The Cosby Show’s Erika Alexander a.k.a Pam Tucker (Claire’s distant cousin), breaks down the appearance of racism in Hollywood. The main topic of discussion was whether or not there is a fear of creating non-stereotypical roles for black people in film. Alexander claims there is, in an interview with Madame Noire.
“I think you fear what you don’t know, what you don’t understand” she answers. “I think African Americans have always been the ‘dark other.’ I think it scares people.”
Alexander explains that this fear comes from racism, and that it is so ingrained within the subconscious that executives and producers in Hollywood don’t even realize that they’re being racist.
“They’ll say, ‘oh we’d love to hire him! He was fantastic! He was a great read and he did a great job on the audition (The young man could be black).’ But they’ll say ‘well, because he’s black he won’t sell in Europe. We can’t put him on the poster. That’ll turn people away.’ So they make it a money thing. Just saying that out loud is racist; that you’re not going to choose the best person for that role (or somebody who you think would be great in it), and establish a new pattern because you think it won’t sell overseas. That’s not only racist, it’s a lie.”
Indeed it is a lie, considering that it was black people who helped build this country as well as shape the fundamentals of Hollywood. Alexander goes on to mention that blacks have contributed to not just music but to sports as well. Sports in particularly, the black image has never stopped sales from coming in. Because of this, Alexander proves her point about the misconception being strictly mental.
As far as how Black films and shows should be depicted in Hollywood, Alexander says to stop referring to them as “Black” films or shows rather than just “films” or “shows.” She says “we’re at a time where the industry has successfully almost segregated television.” The label itself is vulnerable to marginalization and discrimination as it is only meant to target black audiences.
Alexander concludes the interview with “I don’t think it empowers anybody to call a show ‘black’ or ‘white.’”
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