Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

Blacks on TV

 

August 2, 2018



Last night my dad and I sat and watched Love Is ____, a tv show on Oprah’s OWN TV network. While we watched the latest episode we shared a conversation, and my dad made a comment that I can’t forget.

“When I was growing up, you didn’t see Black people like this,” He said. He went on to elaborate on this comment saying that Blacks were rarely depicted on TV and when they were they were most often seen in a depressing, disadvantaged situation mainly as slaves, servants, criminals, drug users, or drug dealers. The depth in which we see Blacks on TV now did not exist as vastly for him.

His comment made me think of the ways in which I have been fortunate to see people who look like me. For as early as I can remember, there have been tv shows that have shown Blacks in ways that made me feel good about myself and others who look like me. My earliest memory of a great TV show featuring Blacks that comes to mind is Nickelodeon’s Gullah Gullah Island that aired in 1994. Gullah Gullah Island was a fictional island based on the true islands and culture of Gullah people, who were descendants of slaves who lived on small islands near South Carolina and Georgia. Another show I loved was For Your Love, which aired in 1998 on the WB TV network. The show starred Holly Robinson Peete, as Malena, a psychiatrist, and James Lesure, as Mel, her husband, who was an advertising executive. The show featured two other couples, one married, the other dating, and told the stories of the challenges and fun times of each relationship in a relatable way. These are only two of many Black TV shows I enjoyed watching, all of which I thought depicted Blacks in a progressive, positive way.

We are living in a special time in which Blacks are accomplishing such amazing feats. As I look around today and observe all of what is being manifested by Blacks, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and excitement. I believe these stories depicted through fictional TV shows in the 90’s and early 2000’s helped influence my generation to aspire to be working professionals, have healthy relationships, travel, and live lives that make us happy and successful.

My concern now is, are there shows what my generation had to depict positive images of Blacks? Are we regressing with reality tv shows that only show drama and fighting? Do we have anything now that shows Blacks in ways in which we can be proud?

 

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