Misc 3 - Fresh Prince
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is a classic sitcom that ran from 1990–1996, detailing the teenage years of Will in his transition from life in the “hood” of West Philadelphia to his aunt and uncle’s mansion in Bel Air.
This clip from the fourth season episode Blood is Thicker than Mud, shows Will and his cousin Carlton vying for a spot in a college fraternity. Will is viewed as cool, while Carlton isn’t well-received by the fraternity brothers. It becomes clear that their dislike of Carlton stems from his having privilege—they see him as “selling out” because he’s rich, and doesn’t act “black enough”.
This clip reminded me of the article by Mary E. Thomas, 'I think it's just natural': the spatiality of racial segregation at a US high school, wherein she writes about the performativity of racial identities. About black girls in Southern US high schools she writes, “they come to accept, repeat, and embody racialization by invoking normative racial identities and recreating racial symbolism” (p 1246). Carlton is an example of an individual who doesn’t conform to ‘black’ norms defined by his black peers. Where Thomas uses the example of white people using “expertise of ‘black’ behaviour and using this knowledge to devalue, dismiss, and cordon black subjects in space” (p 1246), it seems that Carlton is experiencing this dismissal and devaluation by someone who also identifies as black. I wonder, is it still a racist evaluation of a black subject if the person evaluating is also black?
The Fresh Prince was a great show for screening out stereotypes and taking on racial issues in an accessible way.
Thomas, M. (2005) 'I think it's just natural': the spatiality of racial segregation at a US high school. Environment and Planning A 2005, volume 37, pages 1233–1248