No, You Can't Have White Entertainment Television

No, You Can't Have White Entertainment Television

A brief introduction to Hollywood whitewashing.

"If there are Asian culture clubs and African culture clubs in high school, why can't we have a White culture club? Where is my White History Month?" I stared dumbfounded at my friend who was ranting, but before I could say anything, she continued, "And, while we're at it, what's up with the Black Entertainment Television? Why can't we have a White Entertainment Television?"

I hesitated to answer. Maybe my friend legitimately believed that white people were not being represented in history books or on television. Maybe she was not aware that out of the hundreds of television channels, she could probably count on one hand the number of television channels dedicated to people of color.

Yes, there is a Black Entertainment Television, and no White Entertainment Television, but there is no double standard here. Let me explain why:

In the fifth grade play, I had to dress up like Rapunzel. I was mortified—who had ever heard of a non-white Rapunzel? In fact, hardly any of my childhood stories featured non-white characters. From a young age, I was taught that there was little to no place on stage, on TV, or in movies for people of my color, or any color that wasn't white. No one explicitly told me this, but this was the message I received from children's books and movies. In fact, only 10 percent of children's books published in the past 20 years have featured people of color. The other 90 percent had an entirely white cast, despite the fact that nearly 40 percent of the U.S. is made up by people of color.

Today, my favorite television shows feature white people in a variety of characters. They have different jobs and senses of humor. They have backstories and depth. In the rare occasion I find someone who looks like me on TV, they are always represented the same way: nerdy, science geeks with thick glasses and heavy accents. On that note, how many black women have you seen on television who are portraying the angry black woman stereotype? How many Hispanics on television have careers outside of housework and gardening? Do we get to find out their names, their stories?

"The Lord of the Rings" is a fictional story, but the cast for all three movies is entirely white because the directors wanted it to be "historically accurate." In the entire Harry Potter series, it is not mentioned once what race the main characters are—but they are all assumed to be white, because that is the default race. Oddly, enough, the only reference in the series to Hermione's skin tone described it as being brown, yet, Hollywood reimagined this as pale white.

Most television today is the White Entertainment Television. The implied audience for news shows, films, and television is white unless otherwise specified. BET was important for television because it was the first time black Americans had a show to call their own. But even with BET, there is in no way equal representation for people of color on TV. Shows like "Orange is the New Black" attempt to challenge the whitewashed cast of television shows, and a few other shows are trying to introduce people of color as minor characters.

But until the day comes when a black or brown fifth grader can comfortably dress like Rapunzel, I will not be satisfied.

Cover Image Credit:

Popular Right Now

Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

Related Content

Facebook Comments