61st Primetime Emmys and the Lack of Black


The 61st Primetime Emmys aired last night. And no, I'm not going to complain about the lack of black award winners or nominees.  I'm not even going to go ballistic about how television is getting whiter, or less urban, or less colorful as they say in an aggressively more whitening Hollywood.  Hey, at least director Millicent Shelton was nominated for an episode of 30 Rock and actress Chandra Wilson received two nods for a Hallmark movie and Grey's Anatomy.  That's good, right?  At least black talent isn't being nominated for throwback roles like indecipherable maids and grinning men who step and fetch it.  Besides, I should know how things work in Hollywood by now.  I have five years of it under my belt and a host of friends who are still in the game and making strides.

Bottom line is that it's very difficult for black creative types (or white ones, for that matter) to pitch a series or made-for-TV movie centered on a black experience. There's the issue of advertisers. There's the issue of the viewing palate of Middle America. There's the issue of so-called lack of black talent with the ability to appeal to the wider audience. That's why TV trailblazers Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Yvette Lee Bowser, Paris Barclay and Ali Leroi, to name a few, should be celebrated, envied and placed in a glass exhibit for all to see and admire.  It's not easy out there to keep black people in the prime-time consciousness of a TV-watching America.  So, since I know how things work, I'm not going to get sour about the lack of black at the 61st Primetime Emmys.  The lack of black is just a reflection of what's going on in the real world of Hollywood. Right? I guess. I know I just better keep writing and penetrate this crazy until every story counts, no matter the color.  


Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.