September 6th, 2016, 11pm EST. The top two trending topics on Twitter were #AtlantaFX and #QueenSugar, so it’s safe to say that Black people are coming back to TV with a vengeance.
It feels like there was no trouble finding a show about Black people during the 90’s and even the early 2000’s. In the last decade, though, we’ve been absent from most networks, except BET and TV One. Even then, a good amount of the programming on those networks are reruns of 90’s classics. Breaking through the wall of Whiteness in recent years have been Blackish, on ABC, and Empire, on FOX. Even then, there’s been a distinct lack of Black people on mainstream television, but we might be seeing the end of that era.
In coming back to Disney, Zendaya took a production position on her show K.C. Undercover. She’s used this opportunity to bring Blackness back to Disney and add a lot more diversity to the network. It’s not just in casting, the change we’re seeing has Black people in managerial and production positions. We’ve had this on networks like BET, OWN, and TV One, but it’s no secret that those are mostly watched by Black people. This new era brings Black led shows to mainstream audiences.
This isn’t Stranger Things with one Black lead. This isn’t Orange is the New Black with no Black writers. This certainly isn’t the CW’s Arrow, whitewashing characters every chance they get. No, these are shows like The Get Down and the anticipated Luke Cage; Black people making shows about Black people for Black people. Sure, everyone can enjoy them, but it’s a special treat for us who notice and appreciate the nuances and references. When non-Black writers try to write about Black people it’s usually done stereotypically, or tries too hard not to be stereotypical. Like everyone else, we are multifaceted people and don’t have to be fit into one specific grouping or mold. Black kids can like hip-hop and also like Dungeons and Dragons, and Black people understand that. Only we can write ourselves honestly.
It’s something that we’ve been missing for far too long. We’re tired of having to settle for our token Black character we can relate to. We’re tired of seeing non-Black writers horribly writing Black people. Our triumphant return to television is long past due, and I think we’re finally ushering in the new age of Blackness on TV.