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.
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?
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.