Guest Post: Tokens & Accessories

by Lavern Merriweather

Every time – and I do mean every time I see a white singer with a black choir doing back-up vocals behind them, I cringe. Not because I think that the performance will suck or that the chorus of black voices won’t be up to snuff. No, I get disgusted because it’s such hackneyed, clichéd bullshit like the one black boy way at the back in a John Hughes movie. And while I’m on the subject can I please get into what an obnoxious pandering asshole he was?

I was watching a show with commentator and former Rolling Stone writer Toure who questioned why there were no black people in his films. Well, I say who gives a shit? The guy sucked as a director and more so as a human being. Also, there were black folks in his films, but they were represented in the most stupid, insulting, insipid way imaginable. Need I go there with that whack ass scene of black teens in “Ferris Buehler”? Didn’t think so.

Then, there was the crapfest starring CSI’s Elisabeth Shue called “Adventures in Babysitting”. The black people in that mess were either extra ‘cool’ darkies that knew how to especially get down all while showing the hapless blonde white girl and her charges how to actually step out of their comfort zones old school style. Okay, where is a damn barf bag when you truly need it?

They were just one gang of thugs that the plucky white kids from the suburbs have to stand up to in order to save their necks[rubs temples extra hard]. I guess that just proves that if we aren’t into music or sports then we just have to be up to no good a.k.a. criminal activity. He might as well had a neon sign above the black people’s heads saying ‘only qualified to be entertainers, athletes or hoodlums’, or in the case of your average awards show the back drop prop for some white artist that really needs to prove their soulful side.

Funny how none of the black entertainers require anything even remotely like that. Oh right! We are just naturally gifted with soul. White people, however, must have our aide. It’s similar to the magic Negro stereotype Hollyweird parades around when it feels the desire to once again paint the past with a rose colored brush and break both arms patting each other on the back by saying “See? Some of us were not that bad” despite the fact that many of those same people stood idly by and did absolutely nothing to put an end to the sadistic brutality of their brethren.

But why should we still be mad? After all, we should appreciate the chance to sing behind a famous white crooner or be pandered to in the worst way possible. It has a black face in it, and that’s good enough. Not for those of us who have the displeasure of actually sitting through their shitty ass films.

I can’t say that have ever watched one time when there is a white person with a group of black people behind them. What gets me even more than that is the whole token in the background designed to show some semblance of diversity from a white person so that they can feel better about themselves. It’s always the same “See? At least I got one of you in the shot or in the room” crap.

Case in point an episode of insufferable blowhard hag Roseanne where she had moms from old TV shows on having a gabfest. Now, apart from how excruciatingly obnoxious and painfully unfunny it was, having an elderly Barbara Billingsley remark that she would kiss a chick for a lot of money was beyond deplorable. Having former “Lost in Space” star Jane Wyatt embarrass herself by coming off as a bitter old whiner was the fact that Isabelle Sanford star of CBS’ classic hit “The Jeffersons” was there also.

My problem with that was that she was only there for show. She didn’t say anything, was kept firmly in the back and wasn’t acknowledged by either Roseanne or anybody else. She might as well have not even been there for all the good her presence served, which is why I think the term token was created in the first place. It’s just so a white person can say, “Hey, one of you was here so shut the fuck up stupid darkies, and quit complaining.” It sure as shit isn’t because white people have some strike of conscience and actually want to include a black person, especially not when it comes to TV.

I have always said from day one after seeing an episode of David E. Kelley’s dreck ABC show “The Practice” that Lisa Gay Hamilton could have been replaced by a mannequin and nobody would know the difference. So, I guess Lisa Nicole Carson on his FOX hit “Ally McBeal” was supposed to be step up even though she came across more as a prostitute than a lawyer. Mind you, she was not an object of desire, just some ho you bang in the backseat, then pay to get rid of them and hope they are at that same corner the next time you stroll past. Sounds harsh, I know. But that is usually how black people are viewed by TV executives, creators and producers, particularly creators.

Remember that this is the very same David Kelley who made came up with that shit pile from FOX called “Boston Public”, a program which I can’t spend enough time expressing my complete and utter disdain for, least of all reasons was that stupid, offensive, asinine little so-called ode to the all- black girl singing trio The Supremes. It seemed like that asshole couldn’t let one nonsense opportunity pass to have the three black females doing some singing act. Even on the show “Glee” the white teachers don’t hop up in front of everybody to belt out a tune all the time. And the white female teachers on “Boston Public” damn sure never showed their pipes by doing a song number.

What makes it even more idiotic is that one of the women in his little singing act was actually bi-racial. Your guess is as good as mine as to why any of those females would subject themselves to something so blatantly racist and pandering especially top notch actress Loretta Devine. Seriously homegirl, just what the fuck were you thinking? But I guess it’s like one commenter on Brotha stated when talking about superstar actor Samuel L. Jackson even calling him racist director Quentin Tarantino’s ‘ace boon coon’. A line that had me rolling. I couldn’t have said it better. problem with that is that far too many black folks in Holly-white have no issue sacrificing their dignity for a paycheck.

I get that these people have to eat, but selling your soul just to make a name for yourself doesn’t sound like a very promising way to make a living to me at all. It’s like my boy Robert Townsend once said, There is always work at the post office.” And even if there’s not, there has to be some occupation out there that’s more rewarding than being a monkey to a white person’s organ grinder. Leave the leashes and dancing to the real monkeys on the sidewalk.


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