Make Up Your Mind on Race

black-women-tv-collageOkay, this makes no sense at all and I really want people to explain it to me.  On the one hand, you’ve got liberals demanding that we treat black people the same as we treat white people because everyone is equal.  I’m entirely on board with that because not only does everyone deserve equal treatment under the law, the color of one’s skin really says nothing about their individual character.  You have rich white men and rich black men, you have brilliant white women and brilliant black women, you have good white people and bad white people, good black people and bad black people, treating anyone differently because of their skin color and not because of their character is absurd.  This should have been settled a very, very long time ago.

But then I started hearing, with regard to TV shows, that shows had to hire black writers because white writers were not able to accurately produce dialogue for black characters and I just had to throw my hands up.  Okay, what the hell is a black character, other than someone who happens to be black?  Are we now supposed to think that black people all act the same?  Wasn’t there a controversy when people used to think that black people all looked the same, now it’s apparently fine, coming from the “black community” that all of them are supposed to act the  same?  What  gives?

This seems to be the modern reality though, the “black community” wants to have spokesmen that speak for every single black person in the nation.  Blacks have to believe the same things.  They have to want the same things.  They have to talk the same way and act the same way, to the point that being black is little more than a stereotype now and it’s the “black community” that’s really pushing that view.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but when did colorblindness become out of fashion on the left?  Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to be going for?  That it shouldn’t matter what color someone’s skin is, everyone is an individual, everyone isn’t judged by their skin color but by their character, that people are just people and nothing else matters?  The whole concept of a “black character” should be meaningless.  It should be a character who just so happens to be black.  You shouldn’t be able to decide what they’re going to act like, what they’re going to think or believe or anything else, just based on the color of their skin.  You don’t have Obama out talking like some ghetto rapper or a middle-class suburbanite, they’re all individuals, not racial stereotypes.  But no… only black people can write lines for black people because black people are inherently different from white people on account of being black.  How is this progress on race again?  I just don’t see it.

Just what the hell is going on here?

13 thoughts on “Make Up Your Mind on Race”

  1. My guess is that many those calling for equal opportunity are either more interested in equal outcomes or they assume that equality of outcome is the only valid way to measure equal opportunity. If 20% of the population was Black and we really had equal opportunity, one might expect that 20% of applicant pool would be Black and 20% of those hired would be Black. If we found that only 10% hired were Black, we might suspect that we did not really have equal opportunity after all.

    When I hear stories like this about how more Black writers are necessary, I wonder whether the issue is that someone has looked at the writers on staff and noticed that most of them are White and that this is the problem or whether it really is about who can write for Black actors. Hard to know.

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  2. I think that you have misunderstood the point. People want to see more writers of color. They also want to see more diverse characters. The problem is that for too many shows, black characters tend to lack depth and a storylines. These characters are not as well developed as the white characters. Is this because the white writers don't know how to write for black characters? I don't think that this is the issue, but there is obviously a problem, when the black characters of so many shows can just fade away, and no one would notice.

    There is also a problem when so many of the black characters look and sound alike. For too many writers and producers, being black in a character trait, and the only one that a black character needs. This is just one of the reasons why there is a call to hire more black writers.

    1. It doesn't matter what people want to see, it matters what is actually true in reality. People don't choose their careers to fit into some sort of racially diverse quota. They do what they want to do and so long as nobody can point to any demonstrable discrimination that is going on, which nobody can, then it isn't anyone's business who does what. Further, the only thing that matters in television is ad revenue and that means getting eyes on the product. That's why they're concerned about demographics, who watches what. Networks write shows trying to maximize the demographics most likely to buy the products of their advertisers. If they do a good job, the shows they air get good ratings and stay on the air. If they do poorly, they shows get cancelled. That's how commercial television works.

      If you want to get rid of racism, you also need to get rid of the idea that what skin color the actors or writers are matters. There should be no such thing as believable black characters or unbelievable black characters (or white or Asian or Hispanic for that matter), there should either be believable characters or unbelievable characters, written by good or bad writers. The idea that black people are inherently different from white people is, by its very nature, racist.

      1. I'm sorry, but the truth is that black writers, directors, and producers are not being given the same opportunities as white writers, producers and directors. That is a problem. It is also a fact that the there is a lack of non white characters in meaningful roles. You didn't address either of these problems, or the ones that I mentioned earlier.

        Is the lack of black writers to blame for so many black characters not getting storylines, or being fully developed? I hope the answer to that question is no. This is not about the black community wanting a spokesperson. That makes no sense. But obviously people wanted to see non white actors in a variety of roles. Empire's success shows that this is a fact, and that show's success is also debunks the lie that white people will not watch a show that features black people in leading roles.

          1. Which assertion? The one about the lack black writers? That's a easy fact to get. Or the one about the lack of black leading characters, or the lack of black characters who play a major role in pushing a story? My fact about Empire's ratings? It's pretty easy to get the numbers on that too.

            Please be more specific. After that please explain how casting more non white people in major roles will hurt the bottom line?

          2. No, that they are not given the same opportunities. How do you know this? Prove that there is some concerted effort in Hollywood to keep black writers out of the major networks. Go ahead, I’ll wait for your data.

            And it shouldn’t matter what skin color anyone has. As much as I detest Steven Moffat, who runs Doctor Who, he says, when asked why there hasn’t been a female Doctor, that he hires the best actors, entirely without regard for their gender or race or anything else. He just hires good people and is entirely blind to everything else. Maybe you ought to try adopting such an attitude.

          3. I don't think that there is a concerted effort not to hire black people. I think that producers hire their friends, people who they know, and people who they believe will think just like they do. Unfortunately, this means that they are not going to be open to hiring people whose background is different from their own, or people who don't look like they do.

            Here is some reading for you:… this is a report from the Writers Guild of America.

            Analysis of the report: "The number of jobs for women, minority and older TV writers took a nose dive last year, according to a new study by the Writers Guild of America, West. “Women and minorities have actually lost ground as compared to their white male counterparts,” the study found, “both in terms of overall staff positions and in higher-level executive producer ranks.”

            A great article on how many networks and shows will hire someone just so that they can have a minority on staff. Obviously this is a problem, because the producers are going into the situation with the idea that the writer, based on their race, is not good enough for the job, but will be hired based on their race alone.

            Steven Moffat has said that he doesn't think that the Doctor should be a woman, so obviously he is not basing his hiring practices on who would be the best actor for the role. Do you actually believe that no black actor or actress would be able to fill this role, and that's why the Doctor has never been portrayed by a black actor?

            Your words are very contradictory. You argue against hiring more black writers by saying that the black community wants a spokesperson. How does that make any sense? All black people don't have the same experiences, points of views or writing styles. Having a divers writers room would mean having more diverse characters. It may also be a cure for the crash in ratings that blanketing broadcast television.

            People should be hired based on their ability, but this is obviously not happening. Minority writers are not getting the same opportunities as white writers.

          4. People can only be hired if they are interested in doing the job and applying to do the job, something you are unable to demonstrate. Here's a fact for you, 50% of all writers out there aren't men and 50% aren't women. 13% of all writers aren't black. You're looking at demographics and expecting every job, everywhere, to match those demographics but it doesn't work that way. 90% of all nurses are female. Does that mean that men are somehow not getting the same opportunities as women? Or do men simply choose not to go into that field? The same goes for STEM fields, which feminists whine long and loud that women are underrepresented, yet women CHOOSE not to go into those fields. It isn't some vast patriarchal conspiracy, it's a choice that feminists ignore because they want equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

            What's funny when people present all of these statistics about how a particular industry is, they don't actually present evidence that a large number of skilled people want into that field. Where is that evidence? Even more funny, the majority of people, at least in my experience, who whine about wanting more black writers in television, they're not black writers complaining, they're almost always white. Imagine that. Where is the evidence of a large number of skilled black writers who want to work in Hollywood but are being denied, demonstrably because of their race? Let me know when you find it. We work on objective evidence here, not emotional distress.

  3. I'll also add that Moffat seems to think that hiring a female Doctor is a political issue. Considering that he has that point of view, I would hardly say that he is focused on hiring the best person for the job regardless of race or sex.

    1. It very well be that it's a political issue, the whole point of television is to get ratings and sell advertising and if ratings would drop with a female doctor, that would be a valid reason not to have one. It might be a stupid reason, that doesn't stop it from being valid, given the reason television exists. I don't think you can blame Moffat for that.

  4. Why are you changing the subject? Television is about getting ratings, so why not hire the best writers or the best actors regardless of race? Why does it have to be a political issue? Who's making it that? The fact that he thinks that hiring a woman is about politics is a problem. It shows that he is not really open to hiring the best person.

    The same is true in regards to hiring writers who are not white. It shouldn't just be about hiring a token person, it should be about hiring someone who can add something to the show. Unfortunately, as the Gawker article that I linked to showed, that is not always the case. If a producer is coming in with the idea that black characters or writers not on the same level as the other characters or writers, then it's really not an example of giving writers an equal chance.

    Writers should be able to write for every character no matter the character's race, but my question to you is why isn't this happening? Why are black characters usually just tertiary characters? Or whose existence can be boiled down to being the black person on the show?

    1. And I've already said that we should do that. But I don't give a damn about someone's race or gender or sexual orientation. I'm not looking for quotas. If they hire the best people and it turns out that all of their writers are white or male, it means no more to me than if they all turn out to be black or female. Besides, you're talking about Gawker, the cesspool of the Internet. Why would you ever even look at such a thing, much less pretend that they have anything remotely worthwhile to say?

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