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The Cosby Show

America constitutes a reasonable normative standard of what appropriate and/or inappropriate behavior should be. In fact, if one examines the research related to Blacks, the normative standard that developed emerged for the most part from the analysis of behaviors and attitudes of Southern-born, working- class, ghetto-dwelling Black people. Although this norm was cer- tainly more valid than the Eurocentric perspective, it introduced biases against large numbers of Blacks who did not fit the newly developed stereotype of what a “real” Black person should be. Figure 2.1 attempts to illustrate how ghetto-centric norms are indeed based on a relatively small sample of Black people, and are influenced by a Eurocentric perspective of what Black norma- tive behavior should be.

One can readily see the problem in adapting this ghetto-centric norm to all Black people in the criticism being shown at “The Cosby Show” in televi- sion during the late 1980s and early 90s, and to some extent, shows like “My Wife and Kids,” which stared Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell in the 2000- 2005. Much of the negative press about “The Cosby Show,” and more recently “My Wife and Kids,” that has emerged from the Black community has to do with the assumption that the characters and/or the shows themselves are not “Black enough.” Many assume (inappropriately so) that you cannot be Black, middle-class, have two professional parents working, and have a loving fam- ily that displays caring concern, strength, and character, all in a single episode. Fast forward twenty years from those 1980s, and with the explosion of cable news shows, you now have networks like CNN developing and air- ing shows like “Black in America I & II” in spring and summer 2009.

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