The scenes portrayed in each episode of Black-ish are human stories, not “black” stories.
The creator of Black-ish, Shonda Rhimes, is actually quite opposed to the term “diversity”. As the Daily Beast states, “her crusade is for “normalization””. Varying ethnicities are normal, as it would be unusual to live in an environment inhabited completely by members of the same race. Thus, Rhimes aims to mirror the real demography of America and to reflect real life. The scenes portrayed in each episode are human stories, not “black” stories. They are not meant to be considered as segregated or exclusive. By creating ethnically diverse casts, television is able to become normalized.
“Of the 50 showrunners for the new season, two are women of color, and three are men of color.”
Not only the casts of America’s sitcoms and shows are lacking representation of all races. The showrunners and directors behind the scenes are not very ethnically diverse, either. Victoria Mahoney, the director of Survivor’s Remorse on STARZ expresses to the Daily Beast how “so often today- not 30 years ago, not 100 years ago, right now- when people decide to hire a person of color, they usually hire male. When they decide to hire women, they hire white.”3 Variety conducted a study in which they examined the diversity amongst showrunners of the new shows by each network for the 2016 to 2017 season. “Of the 50 showrunners for the new season, two are women of color, and three are men of color.” Studies conducted by the Writers Guild of America have discovered that non-white writers have made up no more than 13% of writers-room employment for a handful of years. In some years, this percentage has been even lower. The inadequacy of representation behind the scenes actually has an effect on the creative direction of the shows as well as the storytelling. White showrunners are more likely to hire white directors and white casts and so on. Ethnic showrunners and other people behind the scenes are just as dedicated and capable as those of a white race, so it only makes sense that a change should be made for the sake of the programs.
While watching television, viewers are meant to see a reflection of real life in America, in one way or another.
So, is it justifiable to disregard talent and to let ethnicity transcend? If the ability to act or run a show is not dependent on skin color, is it worth limiting the hiring and casting pool? While watching television, viewers are meant to see a reflection of real life in America, in one way or another. The population of America is not color in real life, it is more akin to a watercolor where differences are celebrated as they mix together to create something wholly more appealing. Is it too much to ask the same of television?