Crossing over, or the unnecessary quest for white people's money

See Also

Black Girls' Night Out: Mary Jane Paul
Damn! Another One???
Last year, BET’s audience was about 85 percent black, according to media analyst company Horizon Media, and as any regular TV or movie-watcher knows, it’s still a challenge for black-focused programming to cross over to white audiences. That’s probably why so much has been made of the success of ABC’s (DIS) 2012 political thriller, Scandal, which saw Kerry Washington become the first African American female lead in a network drama in more than 40 years. On the eve of the show’s second season, the New York Times wondered “whether Scandal represents a new era of post-racial television, in which cast members are ethnically diverse but are not defined by their race or ethnicity.”

...According to Nielsen (NLSN), blacks watch 37 percent more TV than the U.S. average, and black women watch the most TV of all. Twenty-one percent of black women have a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared with 16 percent of black men), they make up 52 percent of the black workforce, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they own the majority of black-owned businesses. But the amount of TV shows written for or about them is, well, limited at best. And when black women characters are on TV, they’re either depicted by the same few actresses over and over again—as Washington pointed out in her pointed Saturday Night Live opener—or they’re just Tyler Perry or Martin Lawrence in drag.

For years, BET has been criticized for the way it depicts women—mostly in the music videos it airs but occasionally in its scripted TV shows. In 2010, BET’s chief executive, Debra Lee, addressed this issue by hosting a forum called “Leading Women Defined,” at which she said, “I think black women really want to see themselves as professionals, as mothers, as daughters. We want the whole spectrum of our womanhood to be reflected [on our shows].” That same year, a study by both Essence (TWX) and Procter & Gamble (PG) echoed that sentiment: Eighty percent of black women, it found, were concerned about the way they were portrayed in media.

Not much has changed in those four years, but maybe it’s starting to. The early viewer response to Being Mary Jane reemphasizes the fact that when it comes to television, black women are watching, and when they find a show they like, they will make it a success.
This is great information and all, but I think you already know what my focus is going to be.

We need more networks owned by POC. When a network is owned by white people - as BET currently - guess whom the target audience is?  Guess what the focus of every music video and TV show becomes?

If you run a show about people of color, actually starring people of color, the moment you start to focus on how you're going to sell it to white people, you've shot yourself in the foot.  By making a cast predominantly POC - regardless of the shade - you've announced your target audience, and once you've done that, you need to commit to that audience.

There's a recent study full of non-news going around right now about how TV boosts the self-esteem of white boys, to which my fellow blogger Cin replied, "It's hard not to have high self-esteem when you constantly see yourself as the savior of everything and everyone all day, every day. Hence, the reason why H-wood is so bound and determined not to shoot for true diversity on TV and in movies when studies have shown that more diverse entertainment brings in more viewers and thus more money. And while they love money, they love the status quo more."

Here, on Facebook, and my various blogs, I've been talking a lot lately about how POC and white people will never "unite" so long as white social self-preservation is their #1 priority.
The wall of the white self: For whites racism is more than just a set of self-serving lies: part of their sense of self worth is built on being white. It makes them feel good because it allows them to think they are better than others. ~ Abagond
When it comes to white social self-preservation, everything is expendable...short of said self-preservation. Money becomes expendable. Ratings become expendable. Anything which calls attention and resources away from that self-preservation is automatically deemed expendable.

Not only is "crossing over" unnecessary, it's also futile.  Mind you, your average white fan of Scandal or Sleepy Hollow or Danny/Lacey from Twisted may be a huge fan of diversity, and quite grateful to see some brown faces for a change, but said white fan exists within a system of white supremacy.  Ergo, where the system is concerned, said white fan guessed it: expendable.


  1. This is why I always have to give a side eye when people say "The only color Hollywood cares about is green".

    1. Yep...and everything they do these days seem to turn to stone.

  2. Leo Princess1/27/14, 10:22 PM

    "Not only is "crossing over" unnecessary, it's also futile."

    I wish more POC, Black people in particular, would recognize this. No, their ice isn't colder!

    1. Besides, the VMAs and the Grammys showed how the product, the art form itself can cross over, but if you're black, get back.

  3. Just wait. When the white population dwindles, as it is doing right this minute, and H-wood still wants to cater to white supremacy, in the end, they only have themselves to blame when the ship they keep trying to stay afloat goes under. One would think the logical thing to do is to change along with the demographics of society. But white supremacy has never been about logic. It's about making sure that white reigns supreme at all costs. They will do whatever it takes to make it happen, even if it takes cultural appropriation, aggressive gentrification and military imperialism to let the world know that whiteness is the emperor.


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