Dear Black People: Stop Complaining

These last few months of 2014 have been an “interesting” time for black people in the media.  I anxiously waited for the premier of  “Blackish,” the first major broadcast network comedy in almost a decade to revolve solely around a black family. The documentary series,  Hidden Colors, came out with its third installment, and Shonda Rhimes apparently challenged beauty standards when she chose Viola Davis to play the main character in her new series, “How To Get Away With Murder.” Dear White People was everything I had hoped for, and I’m hoping MLK’s biopic, Selma, will deliver on the big screen as well.

Then there were the not so happy moments for black people in the news. Police killings of young black men have prompted a number of celebrities to speak out on this issue, including Charles Barkley, who we will get to near the end of this post.

Despite these awesome media moments (excluding the riot news and police killings), black people still found something to complain about!

1. “Blackish” isn’t black enough.

MARSAI MARTIN, MARCUS SCRIBNER, YARA SHAHIDI, ANTHONY ANDERSON, MILES BROWN, TRACEE ELLIS ROSS

For some Black people, “Blackish” was not “black enough,” meaning it did not depict the “average” black American family. Can we just bask (for a moment) in the fact that we have a TV show that depicts us doing well for ourselves? Can we get a church clap for the fact there is a TV show airing during prime-time that explores blackness and how three generations experience it differently? Nah, we are too busy being mad because apparently low-income black people can not identify with a middle class black man experiencing racism in the work place or having the “sex talk” with his son.

2.1 All the actors in  Dear White People are light skinned.

dear white ppl

So… the Dear White People cast didn’t have enough skin tone variation, and this somehow took away from the effectiveness of the movie? Then there were those upset that the darker light skinned people  in the movie were stereotypically casted in militant roles, leading the black student union’s protest against the randomization of student housing. Yes, let’s completely overlook the fact that this movie, that calls out white privilege and explores blackness on a PWI’s (Predominately White Institution) campus, even made it to the big screen.

2.2 How dare Dear White People show a black gay man on the big screen?!

lionel

Lord forbid there’s a movie that not only calls out systematic racism, but also sheds light on an issue in our (black people’s) community– homophobia. Tyler James Williams from “Everybody Hates Chris” played a gay black student juggling his blackness and homosexuality– two identities that don’t always mix well.  So it didn’t come as a surprise when a fair share of black people complained about his character in the movie. But why? I think Tyler put it best in an Huffington Post interview when he said:

“For so long there was so little, I guess, portrayals of the average black American, that the average black American male associated himself with whoever was on TV,” he said. “So in this way, there’s still this mentality of, ‘Okay, you’re a black male on TV. I am you. Wait, you’re gay? I’m not gay! No, no never mind, we’re not the same thing. Forget you. We shun you now.'” -Tyler James Williams

3. Charles Barkley should just stick to sports. 

Charles Barkley has a history of having controversial opinions, and he had no problem voicing his opinion about the recent police killings of young black men and riots in Ferguson; however, no matter how controversial Charles’s opinion is, he is entitled to it. I’m not saying Kenny Smith was right or wrong for telling Charles to stick to sports in his open letter to his co-host, all I’m saying is… I’ll let Stephen A. Smith take it from here:

P.S. The fact that we have black men in positions of media power that allow them to openly express their opinion on racial issues is a plus in my book.

And so I end this blog with a simple request: Dear black people, stop complaining. We’ve had some great media moments. Not saying that your concerns or qualms are not valid or that you shouldn’t voice these, I’m just saying in the midst of pointing out where things can improve, show some appreciation for the great media plays we’ve had this year!

16 Comments

  1. I want to come to the defense of the “complainers”. For too long the African American voice has been suppressed by the media. Unless you were a celebrity or high profiled black leader, there was no outlet to be heard through mainstream media. What social media has introduced is an opportunity for everyone from the school janitor to CEO of major corporations to openly and freely express their opinions! I say keep complaining; let your feelings and concerns be known. However, whether we agree or disagree, let’s come together and support those positive reflections of our community. We don’t have to agree on every topic, comment, or opinion to have a common desire for more positive and diverse representation of our community in the media or want an end to abuse toward our community through the systems that control our nation. We can have differences of opinions and common goals simultaneously. Let’s channel that complaining energy into making an impact within our communities!

    • This is the same for everyone. Not all white people have money and are powerful. Blacks make up 13% of he population but EXPECT 100% of exposure all the time. It’s getting really old and that’s why whites don’t want to hear or do anything about it.

  2. Media Whisle Blower

    December 10, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Touché . Yes, complaining on social media allows more voices to be heard; however, I don’t want shade overshadowing the positives. As you said, support the positive perceptions of black people being mediated and channel your complains to generate the change you wish to see. Thanks for commenting!

  3. LOVE to read what you have to say, and you do it so eloquently. I tweeted. So proud of you.

  4. Interesting Blog! Food for thought!

  5. This is some great stuff. Very thought provoking. I think however, the issue with black people is that we don’t control anything. Not our images, education, politics, etc. Black people in America, we feel like a teenager living in our parents house. Nobody respects us because we do nothing for the benefit of our people. If you ever notice, we are the only people who practice integration. Ever other minority group comes to America and carves a piece out for themselves. They build stable communities for themselves. Until we strike out on our own and support one another, and recycle the black dollar. We won’t feel the need to complain, because we’ll be in charge.

    • admin

      December 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      Hi Khiry! I love your analogy of a teen living in their parents house! One point that you raise that I want to highlight is the importance of controlling our own media and recycling the black dollar. If we want our story told and told right, then who better else to tell it then ourselves? That’s why I love the fact that there are black writers and producers behind both “Blackish” and Dear White People. I think your point of controlling our own media compliments the point made by Tonya when she said channeling our “complaints” and social media rants into a unified voice is the first step in creating change.

      • Hey Desere. What I want to know is whose funding these show? We have to be cognizant about media and what we watch. Because its all propaganda. I think it also has something to do with the fact too. When people see us on the tv or movie screen they believe the characters to be accurate depiction of black people.

        • admin

          December 11, 2014 at 10:46 AM

          Yea, these are all important questions to ask and realizing that what you see on TV is not a reflection, but a representation of reality, is a very important distinction that people often don’t make. Look at you being all media literate and what not lol.

          • You know, I try to read between the lines lol. What we need to work on is a solution. A solution to rid ourselves of this self hating monster that subconsciously stalks us. As for the guy who commented about the black prince. Why should we settle for the princess, and not the prince? Have we become so complacent with disrespect? What will the young black boys and girls think when they see this movie? I wish disney had not did the movie in the first place. We have cartoonist and production companies. We can tell our own stories. Blacks boys and girls need to see black love between male and female.

    • You are actually 100% right on. When blacks own the black community things will 500% get better.

  6. Khiry made the most intelligent comment so far.

    Please stop lapping up this drivel. Now we have racial discrimination on racial discrimination. (The idea that it is ok for one race and not another to discriminate) Pure and utter idiocy.

    Empowerment comes through severing the corporate media tendrils from your brains and wallets. Sever these and watch your life/mood/health/finances improve.
    Dear people in general : wake up, do not buy into the latest hypocritical pile of “politically correct” drivel. Smfh

  7. I wonder too, in how many places are “black people” a minority? The film in question is American, so presumably that is the case there?
    In London, I believe “white people” are now the minority of the population.

    If the purpose of this blog is to comment on minority representation in the media, are there any articles on the representation of the white minority, in such places? This is the first time I have been on this website and I have had a quick look but could not see any. If there are not, perhaps the site owner could take the idea and use it for a future article.

  8. Stop complaining so much. Mike brown didn’t happen to you. You could never get it. You could never understand. You’re angry for no reason at all.

  9. Interesting perspective and after reading some of the comments, I must say, many I can’t agree with. It’s just their matter of perspective that doesn’t show the reality of life today. I mean, how can you say blacks don’t control anything , when our own president for the last two terms is also black? The administration feels much more against white males today, yet favors minorities (especially black americans), women, and gay rights. In my opinion, the media, our govt, and the world is being ran in favor of black Americans and is against the white man. I mean, there are lots of whites killed by white police officers and whites killed by black police officers, yet it’s only in major media if the victim is black. Perhaps we should see it from other points of view, however life the last 8 years also hasn’t been as opportunistic for whites as it has for black americans in my opinion. I think the real issue today is the black community needs better role models as so many Black American’s don’t take advantage of the opportunities they have in life. Yes, we all have challenges, however a poor and middle class white doesn’t have as many opportunities to go to school, getting into college, funding for college, and even getting jobs as a white man would have today. I can give countless examples to prove this as I’m sure many who read this can by a simple Google search.

  10. My God, a reasoned and realistic progressive Black writer. Celebrating Black success without belittling those who still may be oppressed. And without feeling the need to bash every White institution. The kind of Black person who will be successful and flourish in a multi-cultural environment. Oh, but unfortunately some will call you a coon or Uncle Tom in the Black community. That’s OK, you are the proof of the validity of MLK’s dream.

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