No matter your race, you've probably heard a sentence or two in your life that started with something along the lines of "black people don't..." and ended with something like "swim," "tip," or "do yoga." As we feminists (hopefully) know, generalizing the behavior of an entire group is ridiculous and in this case racist, but that doesn't stop people from trying.
Filmmaker Angela Tucker aims to complicate some of those stereotypes about what black people do and don't do with her web series Black Folk Don't. The second season, shot in New Orleans, kicked off this week with the episode "Black Folk Don't: Swim." Take a look!
Something I really love about these videos (besides the Melissa Harris-Perry appearances!) is how, instead of just straight-up disproving a stereotype by interviewing black people who really do swim/tip/do yoga/go to therapy, Tucker explores the history of the stereotype and also talks to some black people who've found it to be true in their own lives. As someone with white privilege, I'd never given much thought to the notion that maybe black people "don't swim" because swimming is a luxury in most parts of the country and, until embarrassingly recently, black people weren't allowed to use public pools. I just figured that it was a stereotype, plain and simple, and that probably just as many black people liked swimming as didn't. It's more complicated than that, though, and far more interesting. As the season two press release puts it:
In some cases, "Black folks don't" is a statistical fact—black folk don't go to the doctor in the numbers they should. In other cases, "Black folk don't" is an anecdotal idea and concept that is based on a negative stereotype. Season Two is made up of audience suggestions, episodes covering things "black folk don't do" like swim, go camping, have eating disorders, get married, do atheism, and commit suicide.
Watch season one of Black Folk Don't on the show's website, where you can also see some behind-the-scenes photos and get more info about the people involved in the series. I'm already looking forward to next week's episode!