— Ms. Ginny Stroud (dazed & confused)
theyoungblackfeminist said: My sociology professor claimed that since Black people make up 13% of the American population, and Black people make up 15% of film/TV roles, then media representation is equal. Something about this doesn't sense to me, because I know the latter is not true. It's been picking my mind of weeks, but I can't come to it. Do you find something funny with this statement?
Your professor, like many, is sipping the White supremacist koolaid when it comes to media and this concerns me that anyone with a professorial position in Sociology would make this bullshit fall out of their mouth. I mean, the fact that it took 37 years for a Black woman to have a lead role on a network show again (Kerry Washington on Scandal) since the last show (Teresa Graves on Get Christy Love) should be a clue. And since Scandal, there’s only been a few more; no major changes.
The premise on its face is flawed. We are not discussing a census nor does television operate that way. The quality of representations matter, not solely if they allocate 2 Black people from each state to be on TV as if we are talking about the Senate LOL. Further, even if it made sense to refuse to show any more Black people on television than exist in the population, we live in a White supremacist society. The very depictions themselves are meant to reinforce Whiteness and present Whiteness as “the norm” with everything else as a deviation. And then think of character lineups on most shows. Who are the leads? Who are secondary? Which characters are fully developed beings on a show? Who has the most screen time? Who is the show named after? All of this points to Whiteness.
All characters do not exist equally on screen so that statistic the professor gave you is a diversion beyond moot.
And like…even now there are thirsty trolls probably reading this and waiting to name 4 examples as if that’s proof that institutions have changed. They haven’t even when audiences crave diversity. A handful of decent depictions amidst this sliver of space that we occupy within the media is not enough. Under the existing writing for most shows, even if more Black characters are added, they would still reinforce White supremacy. The writing itself would need to change, which I alluded to in Where Are The Black Writers Of Television Shows?
When people are marginalized in society, showing a marginalized depiction of them and numerically no more than the population that they occupy is not justice or even radical, it is status quo…that we had to fight to even get to! In other words, to get the pathetic depictions that we have now, that was a fight over radically more destructive ones from previous decades.
Just on main characters alone (because a Black person walking by as White people walking down the street are the focus of the show is NOT full representation), Alyssa over at ThinkProgress published what the population would look like if based on main characters of television: 3.8% would be Black women; 5% would be Black men. Both lower than our populations. Why would 50% be White men and 34% be White women? White men’s figure is significantly larger than the population they occupy; White women’s near the same. Further, who owns these networks? Who are most television writers? Who runs The Academy? Instead of really elementary statistical comparisons, your Sociology professor needs to do a better job and should know quality and perspective are relevant, not just quantities when it comes to something as subjective yet as powerful as media.
Hope this somewhat answers your question. Take care. ❤
(Side note for everyone else who reads my blog, why the fuck do professors like these get jobs that I couldn’t get if I wanted? Is this not continuously ludicrous? Question is rhetorical of course. Anyways…)
"Nearly half of all the people who play video games are women, but you wouldn’t know it by the video game industry’s biggest conference. Only five women presented on stage at the major press events at E3, the video game industry’s huge conference, which took place in LA this week. Sadly, that number won’t be surprising to anyone familiar with sexism in the tech industry, and the particularly appalling way women are treated in the video game industry. But here’s the really shocking part. E3 actually featured more severed heads on stage than women: eight heads…Riendeau points out that companies don’t just randomly select who’s going to present for them. The decision is strategic, and not having many women presenters, sends a message." - Business Insider