Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Visibility of Carribean and Latin American Culture on Cosby

As I briefly mentioned last week, the Cosby show is full of disaporic representations of blackness, particularly drawn from Caribbean and Latin American cultural experiences. As evident on the show, the Cosby family moves, particularly Claire and Cliff, fluidly move through and participate in various cultures. For instance, Bill plays games popular in Jamaica and the West-Indies, namely petanque and cricket. Bil's participation and embrace if these games signals a commonality between black folk more broadly.

Click here for examples scenes of Cricket and Petanque

Similarly, Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) fluently speaks Spanish throughout the course of the show. Some of these moments include: the pilot episode when she scolds her children, the episode "Mr. Quiet" when the Huxtables visit the community center, and the episode "Claire's 46th Birthday" in which she speaks Spanish with her brother in law played by Placido Domingo.

In addition to the incorporation of language practice, food culture is also celebrated as on the episode "If the Dress Fit's, Wear It" where Claire expresses her love for Mexican cuisine which she must resist in order to fit into her party dress, and the episode "27 and Still Cooking" in which the Cliff and Claire celebrate their Anniversary by eating "authentic" Caribbean cuisine.

Click here to watch a clip of "27 and Still Cooking"

Lastly, the Cosby show also highlights Caribbean culture through the highlighting the inter-marrying of African Americans with Jamaican, West-Indian, and Latin American people. As noted on the show, Claire's mother has a Caribbean accent, Alvin's (Sandra's husband) father is Jamaican, and close family friend Dr. Hamond who is also Jamaican. In this way, Cosby's call attention to the contribution and confluence of these cultures to the formation of the American black identity and cultural experience.

These brief examples are just a few of the ways the Cosby show highlight's diasporic blackness, calling attention to the presence of diasporic blackness on the show. I next want to call attention to the way in which the show themes and traditions also communicate the diasporic blackness of the show.

To be continued....


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