'Coming to America': An Insult to Africa?

Twenty-five years after it premiered, first-generation African Americans discuss the film's stereotypes.

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That view is highlighted in the film -- such as when love interest Lisa McDowell's (Shari Headley) pompous boyfriend (Eriq La Salle) chides Akeem about his nationality, saying, "Wearing clothes must be a new experience for you," and "What kind of games do y'all play in Africa? Chase the monkey?" Or when Akeem's landlord (Frankie Faison) says, "We have a little bit of an insect problem, but you boys from Africa are used to that."

Despite these jabs, for many the movie shed a positive light on the continent. Omari Wallace, a 26-year-old worker in New York City's financial sector whose mother has roots in Barbados and whose father is a black American, said that the film "gave me the most majestic portrayal of Africans I'd ever seen, outside of ancient Egyptians."

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is an editorial fellow at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a nonscripted Web show that examines culture. Follow her on Twitter

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