The discussions have been endless. Why doesn’t network TV or Hollywood or the powers that be care about black folks? Why are we constantly underrepresented on the very channels we watch? And why is the only place we can see myriad black and brown faces on reality TV?
Despite continuing to have these conversations and being extremely critical of our current representations, black folks still rarely see the type of nuanced roles and depictions that our white counterparts enjoy. While many of us complain about the lack of onscreen representation, others are fighting back and making their own way.
Recently, filmmaker Janks Morton conducted a series of “Ten Days of Black Facts” aimed at breaking down some of the myths that some (including a lot of us) have about black people. Morton’s main mission has been to challenge how black folks are portrayed in the media. To further this goal, he started an image series reminding us that we shouldn’t expect the media to create positive images of black people. It’s up to us.
And many are catching on. Although there is a long history of independent black artists, recently there seems to be a resurgence in the content being produced. From Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl and Dennis Dortch’s The Couple, to Ava DuVernay’s award-winning film Middle of Nowhere, black folks are no longer waiting for the establishment to recognize and validate their work; they are making their own way.
But should black audiences do the same? For every article or critic wondering where the black “Girls” or “Sex in the City” is, why aren’t there others reminding us that we shouldn’t be defined by what they are doing; we should do for ourselves?
While it makes sense to want to see ourselves represented on network TV, we have to remember we shouldn’t be defined by it. We have artists and filmmakers who are going the independent route and taking matters into their own hands and producing interesting shows and films we want to see. Instead of focusing on where we aren’t, we should support those who are telling our stories — without playing by Hollywood’s rules.