In all of Barney & Friends' climb to becoming a household and childhood staple, the actor inside the Barney costume was a black man. I playfully smile inside with every mention of this little-known fact. David Joyner was the original actor of Barney from 1991-2001.
So, that means Barney was originally black and we can say "we made it" in our best Drake voice. Who can really say "I knew it?" For one, the voice was completely offsetting. It was hard to determine much of anything from such a unique voice.
As it comes to be, Barney was in fact voiced by a separate actor. The original voice actor of Barney was Bob West, who voiced the dinosaur from 1991 until 2000. Although, as a child the race of the actor inside Barney was irrelevant and the idea that he wasn't an actual dinosaur was not a thought to ever cross my mind. Hence, for many years, Bob West was the narrator and soundtrack to the lives and imaginations of children all across the nation.
Now back to the original actor that taught us the how to love and fathom the unfathomable. Joyner manifested an amazing sense of unity and love that was showcased through Barney. Barney was a gentle, loving, giant, full of knowledge, and creativity. Not to make Joyner's role as Barney all about his race, but if we seriously take a look at the social grammar and social norms we can come to the conclusion that it was most likely assumed that Barney was played by a white man.
Our current social grammar revolves around a normative whiteness. Social norms are what society has decided is traditionally "normal," such as heterosexuality or patriarchy.
To a certain degree, normative whiteness has permeated society so deeply that a person concealed completely under a purple and green dinosaur suit was imagined as a white man. That is a huge slap in the face because of the idea that many had never imagined Barney to be black.
Honestly, I too reveled in the discovery. But, the idea that it was possibly unthinkable in our current moment in time, as many of us are adults or entering our adult lives, is cause for a discussion of social normatively and social grammar.
Perhaps Barney's role was a part of destiny, as he claims that the fact that he was cast as Barney was no mistake. His role has the power to alter the way in which black people, and most directly black men, are assessed. Turning Barney political is not hard to do. However, the indirect impact of David Joyner's role as Barney is significant for challenging prejudices of society.
So, with a "great big hug and kiss from me to you, let's all say" America needs to recognize every person regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity. We're all normal.