Belafonte on Negative Black Image in Hollywood

by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World

Harry Belafonte, the famed entertainer who is now 84, is concerned about the image of black America in Hollywood films, and he says the industry will “never ever yield to the needs of people of color.” He made these comments on the artists and activism panel at the 102nd annual NAACP Convention that ended yesterday. The Associated Press reports:

“Actor Louis Gossett Jr., actress-singer Tatyana Ali, actor-authorHill Harper and members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association appeared alongside Belafonte at the panel discussion. He urged theNAACP to form a group of artists and thinkers to inspire the kind of ‘radical thought’ necessary for change, and he called on black actors and filmmakers to ‘come together and create some institutional base that’s ours.'”

Belafonte proceeded to share, “It seems to me that long ago we could have put together black studios, put together a black distribution center. Maybe we couldn’t reach 100 million, but we could reach 100,000, and have 100,000 exposed to a great truth. I’d rather have that than 100 million exposed to something vacuous and inaccurate.” He says that part of the reason the image of blacks in Hollywood is distorted is because too many people of our people are chasing big bucks. Ali added to this stating that it is often hard for her to find roles that she would be proud to play as an African-American woman — that many roles portraying black women are so limited in scope. The 32-year-old actress specifically states, “The archetypes for black women, specifically, have not fully been explored.” The Associated Press reports that although Belafonte “was the most outspoken of the panelists, the other actors agreed that black artists and consumers are responsible for changing the way the entertainment industry represents people of color. ” They also said that activism and education are vital in making progress on this matter in Hollywood.

Ayvaunn Penn is the founder of Your Black Poets and an award winning writer completing her degree in English and philosophy. To inquire about her freelance editing services, click here. To like Ayvaunn on Facebook, click here.

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