DVR Alert: American Promise

February is Black History month.  Here at smntks we have a special devotion to examining race and media, so it won’t be hard to fill up February with some media analysis–past, present and future–of media representations of people of African decent.

12 yrs

While mainstream media didn’t shy away from representing Black people this year, it’s hard to say the representation was always good, accurate, or reflective of the African Diaspora in America.  There were some stand outs–like 12 Years a Slave–and some not so outstanding moments–twerking anyone?

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

What we can say is that 2013 didn’t give up very many nuanced and thoughtful representations of the experience of being Black in America today.  The contemporary representations of Blacks we did see tended to put them at either end of the socioeconomic spectrum: rich successful and fabulous, or broke down and hoodtacular.


In the middle lays a swath of African Americans nearly unknown to the mainstream viewing audience:  middle class blacks. By varying estimates the Black middle class accounts for 45 to 55% of the total Black population.  Media representations of the Black middle class are hard to find, and rarer still are documentaries produced by and featuring members of the Black middle class.

PBS POV series presents American Promise this week, the story of one family and the challenges and joys of the family’s two boys.  Set your DVR and see this rarest of birds in American media–young Black middle class boys and the educated, involved intelligent parents who care for them.  Check here for local listings.

Author: Susan X Jane

Susan X Jane is a diversity educator, speaker, and trainer and coach. A former professor and media literacy activist, she now consults with organizations looking to make sense of our current cultural shift. She thinks a lot about media and race…a lot...and writes and speaks about media…and race... and encourages everyone she meets to think about the way our identity shapes our experiences, ideas, and beliefs about the world. If you're reading this, she wants you to think about it too. Want to talk about it? Let's go.

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