Taking Back BLACK
In 2015 Viola Davis became the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a drama where she concluded her acceptance speech by saying “ You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” Growing up I always saw black people on TV shows like Martin, Living Single, and Moesha were staples in my home. I saw girls on TV I could identify with, I remember wanting to wear braids because I saw Brandy always wore them. Seeing black people with successful careers that gave me an idea of a life I could have, that was actually achievable. With the rapid emergence of reality TV where it seemed easier to pay people for being themselves rather than hiring actual talent, those shows of positive black images could not survive. Soon the only images of black people that we would see consisted of drink throwing and jumping across tables.
Slowly but surely we started to see black actors and actress making their way back into primetime but only to be surrounded by a predominantly white cast. Within the last I’ll say year and a half we’ve seen a huge reemergence of blacks in television. Not just on screen with an all black or predominantly black cast but behind the scenes as well. Black directors, writers, producers, and casting directors telling the stories of black life created by black people which is just as necessary as seeing black people on screen. Shows like Empire, Queen Sugar, Underground, Black-ish, and Atlanta just to name a few are all shows not only with a black cast but creators as well.
Representation has always been important but even more so now than ever. With culture vultures constantly taking everything we do and making it “trendy” and not even really knowing what it means. It’s important that we take that back. Like if I have to hear one more person say “Bye Felicia” or “Damn Gina” but cannot quote me any other lines I’m sorry as Solange said “This ish is for us”. To our young people and still some adults it’s important to see our people of all shades, sizes, and hair textures being represented because that’s who we are as a people. I’m seeing too many black girls admiring other non-black celebrities that do nothing but rip off what we’ve been doing for years. So it’s time to take back black and what that looks like. It’s important that we create the roles we want to play rather than the roles that they say we can only play. We look better when we work together and support one another.