Race and The Wire

Linda Williams suggest the Wire depicts race differently than other media. She uses a few movies as examples in Chapter six of her book”On The Wire” such as “Bruce Almighty”, “Green Mile”, and “Django Unchained”. The first two as she puts it would be “Tom Films, showcasing a Magical Negro” that continue a tradition of making whites feel good about their own good feelings towards blacks. Django Unchained “seeks either revenge against, or reparations for, previous injury”.

The Wire follows none of these formulas when depicting race. In fact though Race does play an important role, its not so black and white and good and evil as other media suggests. The Wire is full of different black characters, from corner kids and drug dealers, to mayors and senators. Due to this the burden of race is lifted and class is much more visible.

Linda also points out that because of this the blacks that do run around and live in the ghettos doesn’t seem “normal” as its depicted in other media. We see successful and hard working middle and upper class African Americans in the show and it makes us as viewers ask ourselves, whats really going on with these troubled kids in these messed up schools and drug dealers.

A few other ways the show depicts race differently is through Herc and Carver. They used to be partners in earlier seasons but took a few different paths and remain close friends. Herc, the white cop is constantly taking shortcuts and getting in trouble for it. He recently got camera equipment stolen from one of his illegal operations to spy on Marlo and is now taking heat for it from his unit captain. Carver on the other hand a young black officer and teaches his new white partner the ropes, about “its not all about busting heads”, Carver teaches having respect from these people out here and treating them with respect is how to do your police work effectively.

Another example is with the character Carcetti running for Mayor in a prodominatly black city, Baltimore. It was very different seeing the “white guy” in this political office running as an underdog, and leaning on the support of black community leaders and campaign mangers to get him the win. The Wire does a great job with this as its not done as other media. As the book explains When aspiring mayor Carcetti says, “I still wake up white in a city that ain’t”.”he is not portrayed as an innocent victim of the city’s majority black population, but as an Italian American cooly judging his odds of getting elected” Carcetti being white is also not used as him becoming the hero to the city that was being run by an evil corrupt black villain either, as he doesn’t initially follow through with his promises to save the schools and fix the police as he campaigned to do so.




  1. Christina R. · December 6, 2015

    It was good how your group gave several examples from the different social classes depicted in the film. Comparing and contrasting the characters made it easy for me to go back and remember those moments in the Wire.


  2. yashalan · December 11, 2015

    I thought this post was very interesting. I’d have to disagree on race not playing a role in The Wire. Blatant racism isn’t a major role in The Wire, but race does matter in this show. For instance, Tommy Carcetti’s role as mayor was highly doubted before he was appointed, because he was white. He had to learn how to get on the good side of black people and target them for votes, as Baltimore as a predominantly black city. Tommy wasn’t racist, but his race played a role in his strategy to obtain a position as mayor of Baltimore.


  3. jennystark · December 15, 2015

    You give very good examples, and I think many of them prove that race is an important issue in The Wire. That said, I get that you are responding positively to the fact The Wire doesn’t “end with the stereotypes.”


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