Blackness, Animation, and the Politics of Black Fatherhood in The Cleveland Show

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a Father's Day speech in which he called for fathers to actively participate in their family's lives. Obama's remarks were taken by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to be a moral chastisement of African Americans. Following Obama's speech, Jackson was filmed making inappropriate remarks about Obama's supposed intent and his desire to castrate the presidential hopeful. In the midst of the media firestorm surrounding Jackson's remarks, African American animator Layron DeJarnette took the occasion to lampoon Jackson. Foregrounding this debacle is a mass-mediated negotiation of what it means to depict and negotiate representations of the black family in popular culture. In this paper, I examine connections between blackface minstrelsy, animation, and televised representations of the black family. I look specifically at The Cleveland Show, the Fox Network's animated series depicting an African American family. I argue that the show lampoons blackness through a racial discourse while troubling black fatherhood through a sexual discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of African American Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Animation
  • Blackness
  • Family
  • Fatherhood
  • Heteronormativity
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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