For the final part of this research I would like to leave you with a powerful speech that actor Idris Elba made about diversity in TV. I’d rather not share my thoughts on the final part of this series because I want this video to speak for itself and be the conclusion and answer to why there’s a lack of diversity not only in Hollywood movies but also TV. I hope that my past posts have given you something to ask and think about.
Here, I leave you with this video, slam poet Crystal Valentine recites a very powerful message referring to when Megyn Kelly, Fox News host, declared during a broadcast that the historical Jesus Christ and fictional Santa Claus are both white men.
As I listened to Valentine’s voice, spitting words that gave me chills, the sadness and anger I felt when she said, “How can she say Jesus was a white man when he died the blackest way possible? With his hands up? With his mother watching? Crying at his feet?” It reminded me at how much change still needs to come our way.
I don’t want to say much on this post because her words are enough.
There is a huge absence of TV networks developing and producing television shows that include diversity. For part three of this ongoing series I will be focusing on Beyoncé’s visual film, LEMONADE. You can read part one, and part two.
The whole world tuned onto HBO Saturday night to watch Beyoncé’s film, “Lemonade,” which turned out to be a visual album.
The film was 60-minutes long and it featured music videos tied in with spoken word. This film has allowed Beyoncé to express issues from her personal life, especially her marriage to husband Jay-Z, in a way that she has never done before.
I’m connecting this as part three to my ongoing series is because she spoke and explored the issues of an ordinary black women in today’s society. She included a very famous and powerful line from one of his speeches in her song “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Malcom X says: “The most disrespected woman in America is the black women. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.” As he says this, many beautiful scenes of black women in America are shown, you can see their struggles and deepest emotions on their face.
Another powerful song is “Freedom,” which talks about blackness in America, Bey sings: “Freedom, freedom, where are you? ‘Cause I need freedom, too, I’ma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves,” in the film an emotional scene was shown with black mothers who have lost black men in their lives due to police brutality including Gwen Carr, Sybrina Fulton and Lezley McSpadden, the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Although this film doesn’t really have much to do with the lack of diversity shown on television, it does spark a change by having one of the world’s biggest superstars use her platform by making a film that spoke about issues that individuals are experiencing in their everyday lives, black lives and black women.
To this day I feel like not many individuals are aware of this. The picture above shows the poverty cycle which at times it may be called the “ghetto” cycle. It has been proven that minorities, especially black women, are most likely to become trapped into poverty. One of the reasons why these black women are usually trapped into the poverty cycle is because they are usually evicted from their household and that’s how the cycle begins.
“How The Eviction Epidemic Is Trapping Black Women In Poverty,” is a article I read on HuffPost Black Voices. Harvard University sociologist Matthew Desmond is publishing a book titled Evicted, in which he follows eight of his neighbors from his younger years as they try and fail to find stable housing, as well as the landlords, property managers, eviction movers and judges who decide their fates.
Desmond says, “Eviction is fundamentally changing the face of poverty, one way we can interpret eviction is like, ‘Oh, it’s a result of irresponsibility, it’s bad spending habits.’ But if … you’re spending 80 percent of your income on rent, eviction is much more of an inevitability than an irresponsibility.”
Eviction is something very common from where I come. I am from the South End area from Springfield, Massachusetts which some people might call “Little Puerto Rico,” because that’s where you’ll find the biggest population of Latinos, you’ll see many Bodegas up and down streets as well as Spanish restaurants and so much more.
One thing that intrigued me from reading this article is that it was not surprising, I felt like I was reading something I already knew. It’s obvious that the government makes sure minorities in general are trapped in this poverty cycle. They make sure we are all trapped in the same projects and neighborhoods so we won’t feel the need to actually leave because if we do we won’t be with “our people” anymore. We’ll be in a different world where you won’t have the same culture or ethnic background as your neighbor or manager.
The fact that black women are in a high risk of being trapped in this cycle for being evicted is quite heartbreaking. In Desmond’s book he goes into great depths of research. While he observes the neighborhoods he once was a part of he met children and their families of whom were evicted or were going through horrible struggles.
One question I’d like to ask is why do you think black women are at a higher common risk of being evicted rather than white women?
If you keep up with Netflix you should know that ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘ is now available with its second season. The point of this ongoing series is to examine and analyze the diversity in which we are offered in television shows.
In part one of this series I spoke about why there’s a lack of diversity within television networks and the shows they produce. Netflix has recently became more successful by creating, producing, and streaming their own original series. One of those original series being ‘Orange Is The New Black.’ Most of these original series I have realized actually tackle many stereotypes and social justice issues even if it’s in a positive or negative light. I always found it interesting as to why shows like these aren’t on actual television networks.
In this second season of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidth,’ we see a lot of issues involving race. Of course as to why a white actress was cast to play a Native American woman? In the first season she was hiding from her ethnicity and was portraying herself as a typical caucausian housewife, but with this new season she has decided to embrace her culture. Yes, it is refreshing to see this type of controversy involving race but at the same time why couldn’t they actually cast an actress that was not white in the first place? This is the lack of diversity that I mean to talk about.
In part one of this series I used a quote from Wilmer Valederrama’s interview in which he said, “I think [networks’] intentions are in the right place, to try and develop as much diversity as possible, but unfortunately I think a lot of networks lack a bit of that mojo, that courage to actually give those shows a real shot and allow audiences to really find themselves within the leading stories and the leading characters.” The white actress portraying a Native American women is a great example of what Wilmer was saying.
A lot of television shows and even movies are really trying to include diversity in their work but most of the time they don’t get it right. That’s why people still get mad, and they have the right to. Another example, Zoe Saldana, who is a Latina and was cast to portray Nina Simone an African American women. My question is, why can’t they cast actors who would more easily fit the mold of the character they’ll be playing? Instead of getting an actor who is going to have to change their appearance to fit the role?
There is a huge absence of TV networks developing and producing television shows that include diversity. Wilmer Valederrama currently did an interview with HuffingtonPost and says that “networks lack the ‘courage’ to give diverse series a real shot.
In the past we have seen a lot of television shows come and go, usually lasting up to one or two seasons and suddenly being cancelled due to ratings and lack of audience. If you look at most of these shows you wouldn’t have a hard time noticing that it lacks diversity.
“I think television has become a lot more ambitious when it comes to conceptualizing a show — the tones, the universes, the characters, the premises, the stories, but I also have to admit that as much as they’re developing a lot of these pilots and as much as they’re developing a lot of vehicles for Latinos and African Americans, we’ve yet to see how many networks and how many studios are really willing to pick up these shows to series, and really get behind those shows and truly help them become a success,” Valderrama told HuffPost.
Although there is a visible gap between television shows and diversity, there are still current TV shows that have found success and have been breaking that mold by having people, stories, and problems in the show that include diversity. For examples, there’s Orange is the New Black, Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, Power, Black-Ish, The Fosters, Becoming Us, Girl Code, Key and Peele and so much more.
Yes, these shows are diverse but why did it take this long for these type of television shows to become successful? I really agree with a point that Wilmer made in his interview, he said, “I think [networks’] intentions are in the right place, to try and develop as much diversity as possible, but unfortunately I think a lot of networks lack a bit of that mojo, that courage to actually give those shows a real shot and allow audiences to really find themselves within the leading stories and the leading characters.”
The absence of diversity is not just in television shows, it’s in movies, magazines, commercials, and so on. Up to this day you can pick up a magazine that has a black celebrity on the cover and there’s a pretty good chance that the black celebrity is only either the second, third, or fourth black celebrity to be featured on the cover of that magazine.
At the 88th Academy Awards (aka “the Oscars”) on Sunday night, Chris Rock after being so quiet about the #OscarsSoWhite issue, spoke about race head-on with no remorse or care at those he made feel uncomfortable. Many people at home, including myself, applaud him for finally doing something we’ve been waiting for. He addressed the #OscarsSoWhite issues and made it clear to the whole room that Hollywood is racist but that things are changing. He also explained why this suddenly became an issue, “We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer,” he said. “When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”
It all began when Jada Pinkett-Smith uploaded a video on her Facebook which started the boycott movement. With the caption of the video being, “We must stand in our power,” Jada Pinkett-Smith explains that she will not be watching (or attending) the Academy Awards because of the lack of acknowledgement for black people. “Invoking the Rev. Martin Luther King’s legacy on his birthday, two prominent African-Americans announced Monday that they will boycott this year’s Academy Awards over a lack of diversity among nominees,” wrote Brandon Griggs while he went into further details explaining why the boycott was happening. You can watch Jada Pinkett-Smith’s video below:
Yes, this was honestly a huge moment on TV for us colored folks not only because a black man addressed race issues in front of an almost all white audience but also because this is the first time something like this has happened. Yesha Callahan explained it all in one sentence when she wrote, “The comedian came, he saw the sea of white faces in the audience and he conquered.” In her article she also explained the hits and misses of this years Oscars involving Chris Rock.
There were many different sketches throughout the ceremony but the one that took everyone by storm was when Stacey Dash came onto the stage and congratulated everyone by saying, “Happy Black History Month,” when a couple months ago Dash stated in a very controversy interview how she thinks we should get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards, where you’re only awarded if you’re black. You can watch the sketch below:
I am glad that issues involving race are being more actively addressed by stars who have bigger platforms and can actually help the black lives matter movement, even stars like Angela Bassett said in a Breakfast Club interview, “When I see more inclusion [in the Academy Awards], that’s when I can get more excited, when I see the work of what life looks like.”
But even if things do change and even if diversity is included more, race is still going to be a visible issue. Recently there was a problem involving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in which he had to write an internal memo to his employees in which he spoke about people in his staff crossing out “black lives matter” and replacing it with “all lives matter.”
This was written on the company’s “free expression” wall. “We’ve never had rules around what people can write on our walls,” said Zuckerberg in the post. “We expect everybody to treat each other with respect.” Here is his full post:
Ultimately, will things ever change?
It is Black History Month and with that I’d like to write about 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin.
McLaurin got the chance to finally meet Barack Obama, the black president she longed for as well as his black wife, Michelle Obama. In the video above you can see how excited she was as she waved her cane in the air and danced while meeting President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama.
It’s almost like she turned into a little kid that was opening gifts on a Christmas morning. “I thought I would never get into the White House and I tell you I am so happy,” she tells Barack and Michelle, then she yells with excitement “A black president. Yay! a black wife.”
Virginia McLaurin has lived through a lot and just seeing how happy she was at that very moment I’m pretty sure makes us feel happy. Even with all of the issues going around in the world you cannot help but just hope for change.
It is truly an awe heart-felting moment to watch McLaurin who was born before slavery ended meet the first black president with her own two eyes.
Here are some milestones in black history that Virginia McLaurin lived through:
- In 1939, Virginia McLaurin was 30-years-old, it was also the year that art and protest intersected as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt facilitated a public concert at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution barred Marian Anderon’s performance at Constitution Hall.
- In 1957, Viriginia McLaurin was 48-years-old, Althea Gibson was the first African American woman to win both singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon.
- In 1993, Viriginia McLaurin was 84-years-old, Toni Morrison became the first black American to win the Nobel prize for literature.
- In 2008, Virginia McLaurin was 99-years-old and Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States.
For my first post I’d like to celebrate Beyoncé’s Superbowl performance of her new song “Formation.” The song and music video both broke the internet with the words and visuals that it has and how much it speaks for the Black Lives Matter movement. After her performance people kept spreading “unapologetically black” through social media.
The music video used footage from the New Orleans music documentary (That B.E.A.T), general references of civil rights, the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and “Stop shooting us” slogans, riot police, and also Hurricane Katrina and the song has lyrics like “I like my baby hair and Afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils,” in an interview she said this song makes her feel proud and she wants people to love themselves.
Many can agree that this performance was a great tribute to the Black Panthers where you can see the dancers wearing berets and having Afros. Although this spoke volumes and was a force towards creating a change, a lot of people felt as if her performance and song are “racist” and decided to have a protest outside of the NFL’s HQ. I celebrate Beyoncé for being able to use her platform to speak up for those who cannot.