Photo Credit: http://www.ctalent.tv
Last year, I wrote a post called “Craving Positive Images of Black America”. The following is an updated version
I’m starving and I’m craving—-craving more positive images of Black America to be represented within mainstream media, specifically on network TV. I’m sure that my upbringing during the era of The Jeffersons, Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Cosby Show and A Different World is a large part of why I’m feeling this way. Those shows featured all Black casts and their overall they promoted positive themes such as family, education, and progress. They showed White America that we are more than just drug dealers, addicts, pimps, hoes, and rappers. Unfortunately, relative to the number of shows with primarily Caucasian casts, the number of “good” Black shows is and has always been minimal and now they are practically extinct.
The days of the funny, inspirational and uplifting, Black 90s sitcoms are long gone and fading fast from our memories; thank God for syndication. I miss shows that reflected the diversity of our culture. Though I can’t help but acknowledge the glaring fact that most, if not all of the shows from back in the day were sitcoms, not dramas. When I tried to recall some Black dramas, I couldn’t think of any that were shown on network TV. Too bad Soul Food, (which came on Showtime, a cable network) was canceled. Kudos to those who are responsible for bringing us cable TV networks like, TV One, Centric, Aspire and OWN. “Black” Entertainment Television (BET) used to be the go to for positive programming centered around Black America. Sadly, BET has fallen from grace, its integrity is pretty much non-existent; shows like, The BET Honors, Sundays Best and Just Keke are exceptions.
In 2015, you have to purposely search for positive images of Black America on TV. Oh yes, there are positive images out there, but they’re not receiving the same adulation, recognition and promotion as their Caucasian counterparts. The ubiquitous “reality” show is now the flavor that people savor. We love to watch the messy dramas unfold and judge these dramas as if we’re above the fray, when really our faithful viewing shows that we are right in the thick of it. I shamefully admit that I had fallen into the abyss of reality shows. My DVR was overflowing with these shows, making sure that I didn’t miss a moment. I looked forward to discussing the shows with my fam and friends. However, lately I haven’t been watching as many as I used to, because my mind was withering under their influence. What I saw on these shows was tainting my thoughts and my perception of reality. I found myself transferring the negative energy and images from the shows into my own life and Lord knows that the devil is busy enough without me helping him. I still watch a select few but, I’ve greatly reduced the number that clog up my mind. And reality shows are not the only programming that I’ve started to avoid; some of the scripted TV shows have lost my interest as well.
I remember back in 2010, when the show Detroit 187 debuted. People were excited and hyped about a show that was based on and filmed (mostly) in Detroit. To many, it represented new jobs, publicity and recognition for the city. I was one of the few detractors of the show. Not that I don’t love my city, I’m a D girl through and through. I proudly tell people that I was born and raised on the Eastside. However, I was disenchanted by Detroit 187, because it was not a positive reflection of my city or my people. To me, it was yet another cop show that only fed into the negative stereotypes that outsiders readily accept and spread about our city. It was also yet another contribution to the negative reflection and perception of Black America as a whole. I had several heated discussions with others about the show. In my opinion, there could have been a totally different show developed, with a better premise. What about a show like Boston Public; a show that reflected achievement despite struggle? People told me that I was hater and negative when I said that Detroit 187 wouldn’t last; it was cancelled after one season.
Currently, the only drama on network TV with a mostly all Black cast is Empire. Though, I’m a fan of the featured actors, I’m not a fan of how the show portrays us. Of course, the premise is about a music mogul whose company was started with drug money. It’s definitely entertaining but, once again we are being fed the pervasive stereotypes of coonery and buffoonery; it’s not surprising that it comes on Fox. Shows like, Exhale on Aspire and News One on TV One, feature positive images of Black America. However, those are talk/news shows, not dramas and they are on cable not network TV. The sitcom, Black-ish is mildly refreshing and funny at times yet, it still teeters on the edge of being stereotypical and cliché. The images perpetuated in today’s entertainment era are not a fair representation of who WE are as a whole. And with the many issues that plague the Black community, we deserve more than just the news/talk shows and singing competitions sprinkled in amongst all the other bullshit.
For now, I’m determined to seek out and support the positive images of Black America that are out there. The messy part of me still likes a few of the reality shows because to be honest, drama is exciting! However, moderation is key. As a proud Black woman with children, I have a desire and responsibility to feed my mind with more edifying elements than a cliché reality show or sitcom.