The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is about a young man named Will who is sent to live in Beverly Hills with his rich aunt and uncle who already have three children. Will is sent to live in Beverly Hills because his mother does not want him to be raised in a neighborhood full of crime and low life. She feels that he stands a better chance of a better education and life with people that have money and were educated. Will’s mother expected him to become respectful, responsible, and mature.
The show deals with his life experiences as a young African American who is just trying to get by life and school. He also deals with similar teenage experiences that occur today. The show stays interesting because Will brings a bit of his neighborhood soul and street smarts to the Banks family. He teaches them what he has learned and they teach him how rich, high society people should act. In every episode, Will brings them back to reality, his old life experiences.
He teaches them that money isn’t everything In return, the Banks teach him a few things that highly educated people have experienced. Although Fresh Prince of Bel Air has real world life experiences, the show portrays how African Americans during the 1990’s were rising and beginning to take status in society. They were getting educated just like any other person. Television producers were making a statement to society; African Americans were no longer staying behind educationally.
Although African Americans were getting educated and climbing the latter of success, discrimination still existed. In the 1980’s Molefi Kete Asante published a book, “Afrocentricity” this book was based on the idea that looking at information from, “a black perspective” as opposed to the norm, “the white perspective”. Afrocentricity: The theory of social concept. It points out the black ideas and values. African Americans began reaching out to their own history. Seeing what is the best interest of for the African people and “emphasizing r promoting emphasis on African culture and the contributions of Africans to the development of Western civilization. ”
Although the Fresh Prince of Bel Air doesn’t use the phrase afrocentricity, the show bases many of the episodes on this idea. For example, in one episode, Will fights to try to keep his old neighborhood in his heart, his old ways, his friends, and his old simple life, he misses who he once was. His uncle Phil Banks helps him to realize that he can use the good of both worlds to make his own life. In the end his black values that he was raised with were never forgotten.
In all episodes, Will is very proud of his heritage. He stands up for what he believes in and this is what made the show popular. Blacks were talking about what they believed in and people were listening. When the audience took interest in this sitcom, more people began to see the rise in more black actors and actresses throughout the years. Blacks were also rising in status and having political views. They were being transformed to the center of the stage, the white man’s stage and whites were accepting the different norm.
There was more respect for African Americans who were becoming educated and rising to the top of jobs such as judges and doctors. Although the Fresh Prince of Bel Air delt with African Americans being accepted into a white man’s world, the sitcom also showed the one thing that African Americans cannot seem to leave behind them, discrimination. The show reminds African American’s that although they have come a long way since Martin Luther King, they still continued to meet with people that discriminated against them.
One of the popular episodes of Fresh Prince of BelAir is “Racism at Hillman College”, Carlton faces a time where he is being discriminated against. Carlton and Will get stopped by a white police officer because they are two black guys in a nice luxury car. The officer thinks that they stole the car. Will sees that they are being discriminated, but Carlton gives the officer the benefit of the doubt, “He’s just doing his job” Will on the other hand sees right through the officer and like any criminal from his old neighborhood, he leans up against the car to be searched, while Carlton is wondering what is going on.
Will tries to explain what is happening to Carlton,Will quotes, “If you see a black guy drive anything but a burned out Pinto, then you better stop him because he stole it. ” Although Will understands discrimination, Carlton has been hidden from that in his easy rich life. His parents raised him in a different world from Will. Carlton sees the good in all, but Will sees the real world. In 1990, discrimination was still very much alive. Many television producers were using sitcoms such as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air to remind people that this behavior still exist and we need to put a stop to it.
Although discrimination is still very much alive today, children are learning from these sitcoms that discrimination is not good. The more interrelations among different ethnic groups being seen in these type of shoes, can help our future look a bit more peaceful. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air sitcom was used to show all ethnic groups that African Americans were on the rise to a better education and better jobs. African American were showing society that the old norms were being broken. They were helping others to understand that their views were just as important as white man’s views.
Yet, the sitcom continued to show that discrimination still exist in today’s society. Looking at sitcoms today, they still continue to show society that this world we live in is not perfect, discrimination still exist among all races. The Fresh Prince of BelAir shows how African-Americans are on the rise, getting a higher education and taking on higher power positions. The Fresh Prince of BelAir is basically showing the world that all colors can interact with one another to make this planet of ours a place to be proud of and a place that we can call free of discrimination.
Courtney from Study Moose
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