Who remembers Mantan Moreland? Like many black comedians/actors of his time, he was not allowed to show his comedic talent in leading roles, but was always relegated as a sidekick or foil for the main character. Mr. Moreland appeared in a number of comedy/horror movies such as A Haunting We Will Go with Laurel and Hardy and many Charlie Chan movies. His signature move was bucking his eyes quite wide, and shaking all over with “skeered” tremors. His role was to play the “Jittery Negro” in which he was spooked by every single noise and bump in the night. It was a role that he played to perfection, much to the delight of movie audiences, and to Mr. Moreland’s later regret.
While Mr. Moreland’s performance was par for his time, in 2017, Black people have shaken off the stereotype of the “spooked spook” and finally are able explore their curiosity about paranormal activity. Now, before this year, you certainly wouldn’t know it from the shows. In fact, most of the paranormal shows were as white as the stereotypical ghosts they sought, but a new show is out to change the spook game.
The fact is, there is a lot of unexplained stuff out in the universe. We, as humans, are quite curious, and wish to explore these things. Paranormal shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, The Dead Files, Paranormal Witness and Paranormal Lockdown are all programs where humans seek to learn more about life after death. Little sounds, objects moving and that electromagnetic gadget are all indicators of something going on beyond our plane of existence.
Ghost Brothers is a series on Destination America in which four Black fellows, Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass and Marcus Harvey (who aren’t brothers by the way) investigate haunted places.
Their introduction to the show:
"There's a new team of paranormal investigators here to answer two questions about ghost hunting. Are ghosts for real? And why is everybody white? I'm Dalen, the leader of the group. We're three best friends who all had paranormal experiences as kids. Now that we're grown, we're not afraid to look for answers. I'm Juwan, and I'm a Ghost Brother. My name is Marcus, and I'm a Ghost Brother. Our mission is to hit the most haunted locations in America to prove that ghosts are for real. We are...the Ghost Brothers."
Not only do the brothers experience the same scary paranormal activity seen on other shows, they do so with a culture and soul. Two of the brothers are “fashion designers” and it shows in the (sometimes impractical) clothes they wear for the ghost hunt. They also explore with humor and a little trepidation, which harkens back to their religious upbringing.
The Ghost Brothers explore an aspect of reality television which was previously monopolized by white people. The fact that they are Black American is an added layer when they explore slave plantations. One has to wonder, would a ghost of slave be more likely to speak to a Black person? Would they be as angry with a Black person as they would be to a person of another race? These are things one thinks about as the brothers go around in the dark with their night vision cameras and phones.
The humor and camaraderie among the gentlemen is something you can feel. I mean, what ghost team does the Electric Slide in the ballroom of a ghost hunting destination?
Ghost Brothers is on Friday nights at 10 pm EST on the Destination America channel. Episodes can be watched via the website at www.destinationamerica.com.