TSU Perspective of Empire
It’s summertime, and Texas Southern University (TSU) students and faculty cannot stop talking about Fox’s hit television show Empire, the show that’s “taking everybody by storm”.
I was able to come across some students, teachers, and faculty members, asking them to fill out a survey consisting of questions about the show. Featuring an ensemble cast including well-known actor Terrence Howard and well-known actress Taraji P. Henson, Empire has gained an enormous fan base for the cast’s performances, the music, and plot. But, with a show of an African-American cast comes criticism.
“For personal reasons, mostly due to my religious beliefs,” Brittany Minor wrote.
Minor, a current TSU student, only watched the season finale because of her reasons, but had some very strong responses to the show.
“It portrays African Americans negatively,” said Minor.
“The male lead was a former drug dealer turned successful music mogul – something that is typical of today’s rappers.”
Then I was caught by surprise when Minor wrote and confirmed her view of Cookie Lyon, Taraji’s character in Empire.
“The female lead is a typical loud-mouth, neck-snapping, overtly-sexual black female,” she said.
Since the show ended in March, it has gained controversy for the way it portrayed African Americans and hip-hop culture, even though it’s a TV show. And while some can agree with her take, this type of criticism wasn’t the case for the other survey takers, for the ones I encountered did not feel that way about the show.
I personally did not see Empire portraying African Americans negatively. To me, this was a TV show exciting enough for an evening of entertainment and a worthiness of a nighttime activity. This is another story for another day, so here are some individuals who favored the show with their opinions of the music-filled drama.
Another TSU student and mass communications major Shiquita Smith said, “It just told the story as it has to be told.”
The series did not even affect Smith’s opinion of black women, black men, and African Americans in general. This was also the same case for TSU professor Ladonia Randle.
For instance, she is one who only watches Empire for entertainment.
“I wasn’t thinking about how African Americans were portrayed as I was watching,” Randle said.
“It gives African Americans more credit,” said TSU student Khalil Coffield.
Adding to the Empire fan rise, broadcast journalism major Juelz Palton, after watching the series, also wrote that the series did not affect his opinion on African Americans.
“Everyone doesn’t react or respond to certain incidents in the show,” said Juelz.
As it was written from their view, Empire has created a buzz at the Houston college, whether the Fox TV show was liked or not liked. Empire has become a topic of discussion in this year’s summer session, in which watching it with a critical viewpoint gave a lot of points and a lot of complex points. This is certainly going to be an ongoing discussion as long as the series exists, and even though the series gained good and bad critics, including the African-American discussion, Empire will not go away anytime soon.
Racism Aspect of Empire
A Saturday morning discussion in the radio station at Texas Southern University (TSU) was one that should be taken into consideration and simply talk about.
My classmates, my professor, and I were able to go on the air at the school’s station KTSU 90.9 FM for a special segment called A Closer Look. On this segment, the Fox television show Empire was one of the topics discussed along with current events in the country that made headlines. During the segment, one takeaway was made clear: there is still racism going on, and it has not yet been solved.
“We have to talk about it,” TSU student Jerry Ford said.
In the United States, racism exists. For a better understanding of the word, racism is, by definition, the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. It’s currently the modern definition.
In Empire, Lucious Lyon told his sons, “One of you Negroes is going to hold the throne.” This is one of the many examples to spark discussion of the N-word’s usage inside the black family. See, many other races other than African Americans never use the word because it is offensive in the black community. Once Lucious used it toward his sons, a question is now asked: when will we stop and remove ourselves from using that word?
One other example is the shootings of the South Carolina church. A while male known as Dylann Roof entered into a historically black church and shot nine people dead. Headlines were made as the investigation brought out Roof’s motive. Roof was growing up in the beliefs of the Confederacy, and the confederate flag, which is still flown in a few states, was regarded as an offensive remark towards African Americans.
All of us discussed the Empire’s effect and the incidents going around the nation has led to us discussing the racism continuing to affect society. In the sports world, FIFA, the soccer’s governing body, is one of the sports that follow the “Say No to Racism” path, and while racism exists, there is a way we can prevent it. Therefore, we can start by talking about it, which is what we did at the radio station resulting in a step forward.