042514 Debbie Allen

Dancer and director Debbie Allen has been in the acting game long enough to see the changes in how black women are depicted on television.

Allen grew up during a time when Diahann Carroll and Diana Ross were on the screen, but images like theirs were rare. After having worked in front of the camera on Fame and then later transitioning behind the scenes for shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Allen attributes the changes to diversity throughout the set.

“…I think the differences come from a new ownership of the image black women,” she says on Huff Post TV. “When I was doing A Different World, we had black women writing their characters. You know, when Phylicia was on The Cosby Show, there were black women writers on the set of that show.”

“I think the difference now is that we have powerful women like Shonda Rhimes pushing that envelope in a way that it didn’t quite get pushed before,” she adds.

Still, she thinks diversity is an “old, old conversation” that will end when there is a fusion of all races and cultures.

“At the end of the day, I think, as time goes on, we will see the melting pot really become a melting pot, where there’s a fusion of all of our races and cultures, and there will be very narrow differences that you can make. You know, when you go to Brazil, you see black people with blonde hair and blue eyes. You know, you see white people with dark hair. You see a mixture, and that’s kind of where the world is headed right now. You can look at the statistics in America, look at the political landscape in America, look at the forecast, and it will tell you that the balance of ethnicity is changing. It will no longer in another fifty years be a white dominated society. It will be a mixture, because that’s where the world is going. Everybody needs to get on that train and stop it already.”

Read more of the interview, including her views on diversity in dance, here.


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  • D1Mind

    Just goes to show that historically most black entertainers are those black folks who white folks found “safe” and not willing to challenge the white order. And this has not changed, which is why to this day we don’t have a black owned entertainment industry even though it is black entertainment that is the basis of all entertainment in America. So what she is saying is that she would rather be a small “ingredient” in someone else’s stew rather than have her own stew, where she is the main ingredient.

    And the melting pot is a myth promoted by whites to have all those natives Americans, black folks, Asians and other people believe that mixing is the answer to white racism. It is not because whites have a reason for being racist and it is largely because whites are a minority on the planet and therefore need to promote and protect their biological existence by conquering and controlling everyone else. And at no point in time do they plan on “mixing” themselves with everyone else. That B.S. is for the slaves all over the world to believe so they become so diluted and mixed up culturally, politically and socially as not to pose a threat to white domination, which will still be based around “pure” white heredity no matter how much they spout that melting pot nonsense.

  • joe

    This fantasy of a post-racial utopia where everyone is light brown is quite popular in some circles. Brazilian society serves as proof that it is nothing but a naive dream. There, you have monoracial blacks on the bottom and whites and those of mixed race at the top.

    Racism is a system of privilege. Those who benefit will do anything to maintain that system. In the United States, nearly fifty years after the legalization of interracial marriage, less than half of one percent of whites have a black spouse. This is not by accident. It is a conscious effort to maintain a system of racial privilege.

  • ALM247

    I have personally heard people in my personal life make similar comments to Debbie Allen’s. I truly believe that she is probably wrong about this, but only time will tell.

    Even if in 50 years 75% of the world’s children are interracial (and have the physical characteristics in skin tone, etc. that many people consider the phenotype of interracial children), then some other form of discrimination will rise.

    Also, think about the fact that all interracial people are not the same set skin tone. Think about Shemar Moore. I would have never guessed his mother was Caucasian. Then look at Mariah Carey, who could have been considered Caucasian, but she took the RARE step and went out of her way to associate with African Americans and acknowledge that her father was African American.

    Then look at Michael Ealy. He states that both of this parents are African American, so he is not even the product of an interracial marriage, even though he fits was many people say an interracial person of an African and Caucasian union would look like, i.e. Fairer skin tone and blue eyes.

    My main point is, at the end of the day, people who discriminate will ALWAYS secure something to discriminate on. Even if everyone looked like Halle Berry or Vin Diesel, there will ALWAYS be something that people will use to separate people and to block people’s access to opportunity. People who discriminate have deep seated issues. They will always find something.

  • Ask_Me

    Racism won’t ever die. However, economic independence from those carrying the racist beliefs will help make life easier. The mistake was made when we focused on the separate and forgot the equal.

  • Mary Burrell

    This just my humble opinion maybe because she is an entertainer and lived a privileged lifestyle so this is probably why she has this perspective.