I didn’t have a lot to do when I was little. See, I’m an only child. Most of my childhood was spent in my basement watching reruns of TV shows, both old and new. That 70’s Show, iCarly, Zack and Cody, Zoey 101 and Drake and Josh were my life in the afternoons of lazy Sundays. I memorized every line of each of these shows like it was my mantra. I spent all of my allowance on posters of Dylan and Cole Sprouse and Miranda Cosgrove so that not one inch of my room was left bare from one of their faces. These shows were my life, and those actors my role models. I, myself, went to a very secluded and predominantly white school until I was thirteen. It had never occurred to me that all of these shows and actors were white until I entered high school and was immersed with students of all races and ethnic background. When my own life became diverse, it was only then I realised that Society had been portraying white as the norm even now in the twenty- first century. I couldn’t even fathom an Asian male playing any role but the nerdy geek or the Black girl as anything but the white main character’s best friend with no backstory whatsoever. What does this mean? Is TV too white? My answer to that question is YES: T.V is definitively too white.
Television is nowhere near diverse enough — not in its actors, its writers or its showrunners. Denying the fact that Television is white is an act of negligence. A study of Television by the University of Southern California from years 2007-2014 showed that an average of 80% of all television characters were still white in mainstream television. In a country that boasts about its diversity, that claims that its different colors makes it special, has casted 80% of its mainstream television characters to be white. Something does not add up. If America wants to boast about its diversity than its Television should reflect that diversity. I won’t let America use my skin color for the oriental “exotic” experience when American producers won’t even let people of my race grace its racially exclusive television shows.
I was once speaking to a very white classmate of mine. She said, “I am so upset that I can never audition for Hamilton because I’m white. Like Jesus, that’s racism!” She twirled her blond hair around and then proceeded to say, “That is unfair. Roles should be casted based on talent.” This comment infuriated me. Did she not realize that it was because roles are NEVER based on talent that a show like Hamilton even exists? Why is it that when ethnic minorities have one successful thing to themselves, white people feel so threatened? Hamilton, though not television, is trying to do what America has neglected to do about three hundred years. Too long, ethnic minorities have heard the word no, not because they are not talented or hardworking, but because they are not white, and nobody wants to watch a tv show where the Asian girl gets the hot football player and wins prom queen.
I think that white people too often believe that people of color only have ethnic experiences, not universal experiences. Gaining more diversity in television is not done by slapping more non-white faces on tv screens. Don’t get me wrong! Having more non-white faces on tv is very important; it is the first in a 200 floor building with 5,000 steps step. The next step is to show that these ethnic characters are everyday Americans. Not every middle eastern woman’s tv show is going to be about her struggle as a refugee. It may be about her love life, or pursuing her career as a movie star. We should have movies where Asians aren’t portrayed as prude, Blacks aren’t portrayed as jocks, and Whites aren’t portrayed as the happy race that gets to have it all. We know all of these stereotypes are false. It’s 2017 people: It’s time our tv screens reflect what we all know.