by Ama Debrah
This past fall, I’ve noticed a disturbing lack of People of Color in the current TV lineups. While there’s pretty much always a disparity of People of Color portrayed positively in television, it seemed to me that this fall was a particularly bad time to be a Person of Color on television. This led me to wonder, is it just me? Am I just being overly picky? Or is this really a problem that’s gotten worse?
So to answer my question, I decided to photograph every television advertisement on my walk to work to see how the ratio of People of Color (PoC) to Non-PoC on television sums up. The following photographs are from 23rd and 7th to 22nd and Park Avenue. Let the experiment begin!
First off, we have The Goldbergs (ABC), which is apparently a comedy about a family in the 80s. Not a great start, but it could be worse. Non-PoC: 6 PoC: 0
Next up we have Top Chef: New Orleans (Bravo), featuring the lovely Padma Lakshmi. Non-PoC: 1 PoC: 1
Ah, the advertisement that started it all. I’ve heard multiple people complain about NBC’s “New Family of Comedies,” and no matter how many times I see it, it’s still infuriating. Let’s not just talk about how there is one PoC featured on this advertisement for four shows, but how NBC is essentially excluding anyone who is not upper-middle class, heterosexual, and able-bodied from their definition of a “family.” Non-PoC: 7 PoC: 1
Okay fine, this ad for The Walking Dead (AMC) doesn’t have that much to work with, but I saw it on my walk, and therefore it still counts. Non-PoC: 1 PoC: 0
This is an ad for the CW’s Tomorrow People. I’ve come to expect very little in terms of diversity on the CW, so this isn’t very surprising. Non-PoC: 3 PoC: 0
Note: The next series of photos are from a television screen on the entrance of a subway station, and all the ads were shown while I was waiting for the light to change. Once again, I’m tallying the PoC in every ad I see, not necessarily how many PoC are actually in that television show.
Ama Debrah is a senior at Barnard and Contributing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Images courtesy of Ama Debrah.