It’s February again and like clockwork, we’re bound to see a plethora of marketers invoking the success and aspirational elements of African American culture. Bring in the MLK, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman shirts and tributes.
Some content may even draw attention to the plight of African Americans throughout history–que BET’s ongoing run of Alex Haley’s ROOTS.
However, there are some cases where a brand will conjure up just the right sentiment needed and wanted to open up dialogue about Black History Month–and that award goes to Saturday Night Live.
This past Saturday, February 1st, SNL featured Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson (who I grew up watching on ALL THAT–good times), and newcomer Sasheer Zamata in a sketch that was both funny and refreshing.
“28 Reasons To Hug A Black Man”
I’m pretty sure, reflecting on my own grade school experience in good ole South Cackilacky, there are classroom situations just like the one portrayed in the video. The Black students are asked to give a presentation on Black History Month and an awkward silence blankets the air for the duration of the class.
I’d take the content on SNL with a grain of salt. They’re not trying to be society’s intellectual elite with their content. They’re trying to make you laugh and boost ratings. Period.
With that said, they did well. The main reason to hug a Black man today, the video said (considering the Black man is one of the most if not the most disenfranchised and undervalued person in America) is that “We deserve a chance.” Reasons 2 through 28 include slavery, slavery, and only slavery. It made me chuckle. Not only because it reminded me of arguments by noble columnists harping that Blacks should “get over” slavery. But it added laughter to a conversation that usually sends uncomfortable ripples down a forgetful and nonchalant America’s back. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be taboo for Blacks or Whites to talk about slavery.
Of course, this obviously wouldn’t suffice for a BHM tribute. It’s SNL; why would it? But props to the writers and comedians that pulled it off.