Season 1 of Empire has come and gone, and I think we all can agree that it was one hell of a season. One thing people in the black community can’t really agree on however, is whether or not the show is actually GOOD for the Black community.
Empire comes at a fragile point in our country’s history. Race relations and tensions are at an all time high in the wake of stories like those of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Anthony Hill. We’re living in a time where “Black on Black crime” and the way Black people “behave” is constantly being dissected and used as the reason for why we are being killed by the state at such an alarming rate. Respectability politics is at the forefront. As I mentioned previously, even I didn’t feel so good about Empire when it first aired. I didn’t want another predominately Black series on air that showed us in “that” light. I didn’t want us to be felons, drug dealers, hoodlums, or crooks. I just wanted us to be shown as…regular people. Later on, as I also mentioned, I got drawn in by the magic that is Cookie Lyon, and the rest is history.
After the season finale, Don Lemon brought a few guests on to discuss the state of Empire and what it meant for the Black community. Dr. Boyce D. Watkins, a well respected political analyst, author, social commentator and scholar was a part of the panel. He didn’t have that many good things to say about Empire at all, calling it the “Entertainment Ghetto.”
Dr. Watkins apparently isn’t the only person who had something negative to say about the way Black folk are portrayed on the show. Shad Moss (formerly and STILL known as Bow Wow), told Global 14 that he’d never consider being on Empire.
“When we were still filming Cyber episodes, Empire‘s first episode premiered. Fans were saying, ‘Man, you should have been on the show.’ But we all don’t rap or play basketball. We can do so many things. There are young African-Americans who are intelligent enough to work at the FBI. That’s what’s so bright. Hopefully, I can help start a new wave of young black actors who don’t want to stereotype themselves.“
Wow! Well I think the reality of it all is that they’d never invite you to be on Empire, but whatevs. What do you guys think about all of this?