(The Root) — In a Reddit Ask Me Anything, our Race Manners columnist, Jenée Desmond-Harris, opened herself up to all of your burning questions about race. Can African-American publications survive? Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television? What are we supposed to make of Dark Girls? And where does a biracial woman get off talking about all this black stuff? Check out some of the highlights below.
HannibalHarris: Do you think media outlets, such as The Root and The Grio, for example, that target audiences of color are truly viable over the long run? If so or not, why or why not?
Also, why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television?
Jenée Desmond-Harris: Hey, Hannibal. Thanks for the question(s). I absolutely think media outlets like The Root and The Grio are viable over the long term. However, I believe they’ll evolve to be publications that provide commentary grounded in the African-American experience to all audiences, versus publications that “target communities of color.” I think there’s a unique, valuable and sought-after black perspective on issues ranging from civil rights to pop culture, and that people of all colors can appreciate that.
With respect to your question on White Entertainment Television, I’d encourage you to let go of the idea that we should be able to draw direct parallels between things that work or are needed for white Americans and nonwhite Americans (things like “Why don’t we have White History Month?” fit in with this theme). This really oversimplifies our country’s racial history as well as our current racial landscape. The simple answer is that we don’t have WET because all of television used to be WET. You don’t have to look very far back in history to recall that.
That said, I do think in an increasingly diverse and multiracial country, the changing nature of the white experience in America is worth our interest and attention. What does it mean for a group of people when they cease to be the minority? How do they react? How does our thinking and language change as a result? I addressed a little of this in The Root‘s Browner America series, and I really look forward to CNN’s upcoming White in America special, because I’m hopeful that it will take an honest look at these questions.
HH: By the way, did you see the Dark Girls documentary that ran on OWN? What are your thoughts about black people’s well-known struggles with colorism, highlighted so well in Spike Lee’s film School Daze? Seems like black people just can’t get over their own issues about skin color and stuff.
JDH: I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m familiar with it, and I followed reactions on Twitter and Facebook.