Friday, September 07, 2007

Writing White?

Co-authors Donna Grant and Virginia DeBerry examine the subject and ask some very interesting questions:
"When an African American writer or entertainer achieves success with a wider (read White) audience, a la Will Smith or Terry McMillan, they are said to have cross-over appeal. Why isn’t the reverse true? When Blacks watch CSI, Spiderman 3 or pick up he latest John Grisham, no one attributes that to cross-over. Is it assumed that everyone will find these diversions entertaining? That race doesn’t matter as long as it’s White? That Blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Lakhota Sioux, Lebanese and whomever else the census separates out will “get” the storyline and generate the dollars requisite for success?

Even in the racially diverse “Grey’s Anatomy”, the central character, intern Meredith Grey, is a White woman, despite the fact series writer/producer Shonda Rhimes, is African American. Happenstance or economics? Quiet as it’s kept, in our first novel, Exposures, we “wrote White”, deciding it was the surest way to test our joint writing chops--and get published. It worked; the novel sold in two weeks. It took a lot longer to find a home for our first book with Black characters. At the time we didn’t fit the established categories (we weren’t Toni or Terry), so many editors didn’t believe we would find an audience. They were wrong."
I think the observation about the blockbuster show "Grey's Anatomy" reveals much about the state of our union. Shonda Rhimes knows the key to reaching the largest audience is doing what works. Clearly her interests weren't in merely targeting African Americans and becoming marginally successful when compared to the "mainstream" TV echelon. She wanted to produce something that could reach all people......Which leads to an interesting question: suppose the suits and cuff links at ABC had refused to air "Grey's" if Shonda hired a white actress for the lead? What if they'd demanded that Meredith Grey and the other main roles be black so they could target AA viewers? Sound familiar?

I think it's great that Shonda Rhimes was allowed creative freedom without any apparent regard to her race. Why even bother pointing out that she's black, yet has a white female lead? I'm sure this ticks off many black racists as much as the day is long, but the bottom line is we shouldn't deny people freedom we've spent hundreds of years fighting for.

Join the discussion!


Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

After reading all of these comments it makes me wonder what can minorities do to remove the color stigma.

I see at least three areas in need of distinct actions. 1. shedding of social color distinction 2) showing of personal intelligent persona that influence respect and acceptance. 3) quick to demand personal civil rights.

The struggle to receive racial equality is hard because just a few minority have advanced past the slavish mentality and understand the worth of human freedom, however there's the need to rid life of persona non grata.

9/08/2007 3:09 PM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

It pains me to say it, but I'm not so sure there's going to be much improvement anytime in the foreseeable future. Too many are married to their skin color and shoot down any black who dares to leave that school of thought and be who they want to be, independent of skin color. It's slave mentality through and through, even though it's taboo to say so.

9/09/2007 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Ancient Reader said...

BSA, wrote:

"Too many are married to their skin color and shoot down any black who dares to leave that school of thought and be who they want to be, independent of skin color."

So what must be done to change this situation, its really pitiful. Even more pitiful when considering a quote from Dr. M. L. King's speech delivered on August 28, 1963 at Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free".

Well the cancer of white racist character has not been eradicated, therefore with the exception of little improvement, Dr. King's statement remains true; "Negro is still not free". Whites are now asking, "how much more do you want?" They are intent on keeping blacks relegated to an unequal sphere in the same country, and foreigners are amazed that such bigotry is still taking place in the U.S.

In my opinion two major stumbling blocks exist. First, most of the white sectors in the U.S. remains characteristically bigoted with laws framed to favor racist conduct. Second, so-called progressive blacks are usually sucked into vortex of bigoted employment condition. Here the influence mold them in stanched Uncle Toms. You will not here any of these UTs speak out on the lack of racial equality in the U.S. because as far as they are concerned there is equality everywhere and they would be uselessly embarrassed to say the word "bigotry" publicly - those are the Uncle Toms out there.

Christmas is around the corner and lets end this post with something refreshing, another quote from Dr. King's speech.

"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last". Happy holidays in freedom this Christmas.

11/24/2007 3:48 PM  
Anonymous black expressions book club said...

It's really time to get over skin color and focus on talent!

7/30/2010 1:25 PM  

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