The Modern Day Black Buffoons


Black actors and actresses such as Steppin Fetchit, Rochester and Hattie McDowell all playing buffoons or mammies in the movies of yesteryear was being discussed after Morgan Freeman who stars in the movie “Evan Almighty” was stated to be in “Full-on Magic Negro Mode” by Slate magazine. Prince Joe Henry who wrote an article called “Evan Help Us” where he states “However, those aforementioned blacks were heroes to the black masses. Their gifted antics relieved stress in time of need. They taught blacks how to laugh at themselves while under duress, as well as joke about how they were treated. At times laughable quips served better than medicine.”

Now I have to admit that blacks were under a tremendous amount of stress as we are at this time. So to have a way to blow off steam was and is a great idea, but I am wondering at which point did playing the buffoon turn into a repetitive ongoing role. It seems that we have just as many or maybe even more buffoons today than in the past. We have our Michael Epps, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Tyler James Williams, Anthony Anderson and oh so many more who no doubt are totally accustomed to playing our modern day buffoons. Unfortunately the females are in the running as well becoming so adept at playing the Hattie McDowell mammy character like Queen Latifah, Oprah, Whoopie Goldberg, Nell Carter, Rah Digga just to name a few.

We just don’t seem to get it; we are either playing the role of savior to whites, their worst fear or comic relief. What is wrong with that, it seems that we are getting a variety of roles within these parameters so again what’s the problem? The problem is that we don’t have many if any roles that portray a black person who is in touch with their roots. Yes we have our Will Smiths’, Denzel Washington’s Don Cheadle’s and Morgan Freeman types playing the leading black male etc. The problem with the roles these black males are playing is that they are racially ambiguous. It would be so easy to slip in a Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck into the role and the character wouldn’t change just the way the acting comes across.

Whenever you hear about blacks playing the buffoon or whatever black stereotype you can name, someone says that they had no choice if they wanted to make it in films or that if they didn’t do it someone else would. Why, is all I can think of, why is it that they had no choice you always have a choice? No one forced them into these stupid roles. If they and or any other black being offered these roles had some integrity then NO one would have played or will ever play these idiotic roles that always seems to be affixed to black people. Being that it’s all about me with most people, if one of those aforementioned actors didn’t do it, then you are damn sure someone else would have.

If an actual film or television show like the one portrayed in Bamboozled, you probably could get some “all about me” blacks to dress up in black face and put on that minstrel. Then sure enough you would have a gaggle of blacks watching and see nothing wrong with the show and in fact right now a bunch of people reading this see no problem with the roles these blacks are pushing on our community. What I think is that as a community we should own our persona and take steps to protect it. This will ensure that the black people especially children will have some positive role models.



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8 responses to “The Modern Day Black Buffoons

  1. brotherpeacemaker

    That lame excuse of “somebody’s got to do it” only goes so far. Somebody’s got to be a murderer doesn’t make murder acceptable. Somebody’s got to be a pedophile doesn’t make pedophilia acceptable. So the excuse that somebody’s got to be the uncle tom or stooge for white people shouldn’t make it acceptable that somebody’s making a living out of being their stooge. All the wealth black actors control could finance and distribute whatever they wanted. The problem is these actors aren’t willing to offend their white paychecks because then they wouldn’t be making as much money as they’ve grown accustomed to or they wouldn’t win the notoriety that they may be accustomed to or they wouldn’t get white people’s approval that they’ve become accustomed to. Why isn’t one of these black people ever thinking somebody’s got to be the role model for black people? Somebody’s got to do it.


  2. theblacksentinel

    Damn right, when is it going to be a big embarrassment to act like this. The fact that they don’t want to upset their white benefactors is exactly why we STILL have these cheesing coons now.

    Thanks for the reply

  3. Andrea Goddard

    I am a volunteer saturday school teacher and am running a class on images of black people in films. I came across these comments and feel they are valid. I think we need to educate both adults and children to recognise the difference bewteen “laughing with” and “laughing at”.

  4. Sorry to come in late to the party. You talk about blacks playing stereotypical roles in the movies.

    Here in corporate America, it seems we’re always playing the role of “staff” — human resources, administrative assistants, paralegals, IT and public relations or community relations.

    This is as opposed to the white-dominated “line” or “operations” positions that really earn the money, where one is accountable for results over which said person may have little control. That’s why such jobs are stressful with long hours. Those are the jobs that lead to positions like CEO.

    And we tend not to want those jobs because they will interfere with our personal lives. “What do you mean I have to work late? I have Bible study tonight!”

    Every time I interview for a job, the “hiring manager” always seems to be a white male.

    Sorry for what seems to be an unrelated rant, but this past seven years in corporate america has for me been an eye-opener.

    We play these roles — however demeaning they are — is that’s because that’s what white folk are willing to pay for and because we want to get paid. Nothing short of our repatriation to Africa — I’d say we start with Liberia — will change that.


  5. blackpresence

    Interesting post, but What is black, ho to define something as broad and diverse as the continents that divide us is a difficult task.

    Even when blacks make their own films for example the Wayans Brothers, for the most part…its buffoonery. I personally cannot stand Martin Lawrence because he always plays a chump.

    I would hope for more Denzels, Will Smiths and Larry Fishbournes. sure these characters are ambiguous regarding race. I think this is good though because human beings are not, sorry should not be defined by race alone.

  6. I guess I don’t understand why it is a good thing that these people are ambiguous about their race. I know that there is infinite diversity and everyone is an individual and different. But, then why does ALL of these characters have to be racially ambiguous? Wouldn’t some of them be Afrocentric in their portrayal if diversity was the key? But they don’t and I believe that we all understand why deep down inside.

    Thanks for the reply.

  7. mike

    Hattie McDaniel actually

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