Pierre Delacroix (DAMON WAYANS) is an African-American TV executive for the Continental Network System who's been assigned by his white boss, Dunwitty (MICHAEL RAPAPORT), to come up with a groundbreaking TV program that will showcase black talent and draw back the millions of viewers who've been tuning out.
Due to Dunwitty's overbearing and self-proclaimed grasp on being black, Pierre decides to concoct the most offensive and racist show he can imagine, hoping to get himself fired in the process. As such, he reinvents the minstrel show and hires two local street performers, Manray (SAVION GLOVER) and Womack (TOMMY DAVIDSON), renames them Mantan and Sleep 'N Eat, and casts them in "Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show."
Featuring black talent in traditional blackface and consisting of politically incorrect song and dance numbers and offensive, old-fashioned racist skits, the idea understandably insults Pierre's black assistant, Sloan Hopkins (JADA PINKETT-SMITH). Nevertheless, Dunwitty and the network executives love it, as does the live audience that - after being entertained by Honeycutt (THOMAS JEFFERSON BYRD), the show's warm-up man - quickly takes to the initially shocking sight of black men in blackface.
To Pierre's dismay, the show becomes a national hit, turning Mantan and Sleep 'N Eat into cultural icons. Not everyone is happy with the program, however, and Sloan's political activist/urban terrorist brother, Julius, a.k.a. Big Black Africa (MOS DEF), and his crew, the Mau Maus, decide to do something about the show. As they plot their action, Pierre must contend with the success of his creation and the impact that it has on his status and beliefs of being an African-American.