Friday, September 23, 2011

When the Media Gets Diversity Right

Hi Meltingpot readers,

I'm still flying high from last night. Why? Did I suddenly find a miracle cure for this blasted cold? No. Did I hit the Megamillions jackpot? I wish. I'm just really happy because the new season of Grey's Anatomy started last night and as usual they provided tear-jerking drama, controversial plot points and pithy banter in full living color. In other words, they managed to make full use of their diverse cast (as well as talented extras of color) without making race and/or diversity the story. It just is. Kind of like real life. Interracial couples, transracial/international adoptions, it's all in there. As are mixed race doctors, a Black chief of surgery and a poor, White, bad-ass doctor from the wrong side of the tracks. This is what I love about Grey's. They make it look so easy. And from my side of the sofa I don't see why other prime time TV shows can't figure out how to include colored folks in their casts. I don't really watch any other TV show religiously other than Grey's, but I tune in once in a while to see what's being offered and I'm astounded that so many of the new network TV shows this season still have zero actors of color in them. Not even a token Black, Asian, Latino, Mixie friend, boss, cocktail waitress can be found. Really TV world?

That's why I think I'm going to follow my Fierce and Nerdy friend, Ernessa Carter's rule and not even tune in to shows that can't figure out how to bring some color into the cast. That's just too insulting in 2011.

But moving on, because I labeled this post "When the Media Gets Diversity Right," I wanted to give two Meltingpot thumbs up to another magazine (I talked about Ebony earlier this week) that seems to be working hard to be inclusive. I'm not a loyal reader of this magazine yet, but I almost woke the baby choking on my own glee last night as I paged through the most recent issue of Redbook magazine. Yes, Redbook.

First of all, you must know that Redbook received a total hipster makeover when former Glamour staffer Jill Herzig took over as EIC last year. But more than Glamourize the magazine, it seems someone at Redbook understands that American women actually come in multiples shapes and shades. Case in point, on page 85 they have a beauty piece on tips to keep your skin looking young. Basic women's magazine stuff. But, they break it down by ethnic group. Usually women's mags try to cover their bases by using euphemisms like 'light' and 'dark' skin and featuring some ambiguously brown woman to cover all of their bases. But this article actually breaks their tips down for -- wait for it -- "Caucasian, Latina, African-American, Asian and Indian," women. Yes, they get that specific and they actually interview ethnic dermatologists for each section, so you know the information is on point. I read a lot of magazines and I have never, ever seen beauty tips for Asian, Latina and Indian women in a mainstream publication. And it makes a difference to see yourself in the pages of a mainstream publication. It means you've been noticed. It means you matter. ( Not for nothing, they also featured Jada Pinkett-Smith as their cover model last month.) Go Redbook and please keep it up.

I'm thinking about instituting a Meltingpot Medal of Honor to media output that gets diversity right. What shows and/or magazines do you think are doing a good job?

 I'm listening.



Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Wow, now I really wish I could get a copy of that magazine over here. I would LOVE some tips on how to take care of my skin. And do eye-makeup. Because I have sort-of heavy-lidded eyes. I mean, they're not really heavy lidded but they don't have the prominent brow bone that pretty much every eye make up tip requires. I wonder what can be done about mixed race skin terms of skin care regimen, I mean!

You're friends with Ernessa Carter?! Small world. I met her at a writer's conference last year. She's so funny and AWESOME. Love her.

As for TV shows...I don't watch that much, but I was really impressed with The Wire.

Also: have you seen ARISE Magazine?

lifeexplorerdiscovery said...

yeah one of the reasons I like Grey's is because they employ a lot of minorities (though I still am steamed at what happened to Isaiah Washington even though his character annoyed me). But Chief Webber from what I hear will once again lose his Chief spot. But it does make sense that he would take the blame for what Meredith did.

I also loved the return of the comical elements that made this show so popular.

For some reason medical shows tend employ the most minorities. Which is good since its my fave genre. I only like 2 cop shows Castle and Psych. Although I hate it when tv shows always hire black men. I think ABC is the only network that actually has hired black women.

You should check out the tv show Eureka on SciFi. Even though the 4th season has ended and there is only 1 season left (in 2012) before the series is over, they have a black female lead (Salli Whitfield) who happens to be in love with our main character Jack (a very cute white man) and even before him, she was in love with another white man (who vanished because of an experiment gone wrong).

LT said...

I love Ernessa too. I adore Arise. Great minds...

I don't have cable. Shhh don't tell. So I'm dependent on network TV.

lifeexplorerdiscovery said...

i think eureka is available on netflix and hulu.

Ernessa T. Carter said...

@Jade Hi! Hi! Hi!

@Life Explorer My favorite part of your comment: they have a black female lead (Salli Whitfield) who happens to be in love with our main character Jack (a very cute white man) and even before him, she was in love with another white man (who vanished because of an experiment gone wrong).

@Lori, I was just saying in my "seriously annoyed" review of Pan Am, it's just bad business to green light shows with no diversity these days. Almost all the scripted hits from the last 5 years feature PoC who are actually given storylines of their own.

Anonymous said...

I was once a fan of Grey's Anatomy and then I lost interest... I saw the season premiere last Thursday. I hope the rest of the season will continue to be interesting.

I recently started watching Parenthood on NBC. I love it! It is on its second season and airs on Tuesdays. It is about a white family with one or two black family members. The characters and the storylines are captivating. Please check it out.


LT said...

I hear you loud and clear. Wish the network honchos did too.

Welcome back to Grey's. I hope you stay captivated.

Anonymous said...

The media is getting diversity wrong more than ever before.

While Ebony simply features different types of black women, Redbook features all women, whether it is demographically relevant or not.

It isn't black, Indian or Asian women disappearing from the media after all, it is white women and white people in general.

Seriously, tell me that you can see white women represented in things like the 'Miss Universe' pageant(which is probably the best way to measure global diversity as it takes away the argument of white people somehow being able to 'blend in')as countries like England and France have less and less white women representing them, and America is deliberately trying to pick non white women every year.

If white people don't start making things like an Ivory magazine and the like, we will be severely underrepresented in all areas very soon.

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You are completely right theres no doubt about the diversity factor.