Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

November 1, 2013

Lack of black women becomes 'SNL' issue


Niagara Gazette — The show still is an important part of the culture, and misses something when there's a lack of diversity, she said. She cited political humor as something that would benefit from different perspectives.

Discussing the issue on Roland Martin's radio show recently, comic Kym Whitley wryly noted, "They do have sisters on there — they're just brothers playing sisters."

Not anymore. Both Thompson and Pharoah are balking now at performing in drag. They won't put on wigs, makeup or dresses to portray Oprah Winfrey or Whoopi Goldberg, for example.

Performing in drag has been a contentious issue among black comics, even as people like Perry and Flip Wilson portrayed signature female characters. Having men portray women frequently turns them into cartoonish or stereotypical characters, said Darnell Hunt, a sociology professor and director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

"You are almost locked into certain types of portrayals of black women, if you have them at all," Hunt said.

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