After watching and discussing White Like Me I really started thinking about black representation in media. While in present media culture there is a lot more black representation, there is still this notion that it is for, or fits into, white mainstream media culture. For example, I was thinking about the tokenism behind black characters in most of the popular network tv shows. While there may be black representation, tv casts remain primarily white, hence the phrase “token black person” being talked about in media. Shows like New Girl, The Office, Parks and Rec etc all have very large casts that feature only one, maybe two black people or people of color.

Media consumers may think networks are diverse and progressive, but aside from networks like BET, which feature tv shows and films that are almost exclusively black, there is little to no representation of minorities and black characters in popular series. There are no outlets like Inside Bed Stuy or Black Journal that offer a greater variety of black perspectives or news outlets. Black tokenism is masking the inherent racism that our media culture has and the underrepresentation, or misrepresentation that comes from popular network tv. 635915307926559229-982771231_parks-and-rec-castScreen Shot 2016-09-11 at 3.36.53 PM.png

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3 responses »

  1. acmullin says:

    I totally agree. This kind of tokenism is so prominent in TV shows and media in general. I think it would be beneficial for more shows to adopt the same method of casting that Shonda Rhimes uses in her shows such as Grey’s Anatomy. The casting calls do not specify a race like most casting calls. This has resulted in her shows being much more diverse than most mainstream television.

  2. bhedigan says:

    This sort of tokenism is especially harmful because of the way in which it allows networks to check off the “diversity” box while continuing to cater exclusively to white audiences. It’s awful that shows with all-white or nearly all-white casts are supposedly shows for the everyman, shows and anyone and everyone can enjoy. But shows like “Black-ish” and “Fresh off the Boat” just aren’t “relate-able” for these so-called everymen, and will often experience decreased viewership because of it. If all-white casts weren’t seen as the norm, and media utilized more and more predominantly PoC casts, eventually diverse casts would be seen as the norm, instead of the usual “5 or 6 white people and the PoC comedy relief.”

  3. emacune says:

    I completely agree that tokenism is a huge problem on network television today. It seems to me that in every show I have watched lately characters of color have only been defined by the color of their skin and nothing else. While I think it is important to not be color blind and to acknowledge how much more difficult it is for POCs to be successful (at least within the whitewashed normative way of being successful), characters of color deserve more and they deserve to not just have to be token assisting characters in media.

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