Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television

Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, Rutgers University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8135-3105-5

Twenty-first-century popular culture recalls the latter days of nineteenth-century cinema. White audiences, startled and intrigued with how a filmed train pulled into the station, flocked to the glow of this new technology. A love affair with film emerged from this initial interaction. Fast-forward to the now. ... As technologies constantly change, the awe of once-new ones wanes. Yet what has replaced this spectator fascination with technology is colored bodies. In this contemporary iteration of the new, colored bodies usher in a different and equally entertaining type of spectacle. (p. 01)

Whether it's Beulah, Julia, Get Christy Love, Thea, or Moesha, one of the most pervasive problems with Black representation on American television has been the lack of scope and depth offered in its purview. African-Americans' furious responses to images of themselves have been directed less toward specific programs than toward perpetually limited roles, histories, and reflections of Black life portrayed on American and world television monitors. (p. 08)

The danger of analyzing representations within popular culture is in supposing finality. The possibilities of this work for both spectators and producers lie in its ability to persuade each to engage television more critically, with an open mind, and to foster substantive discussions with women whose lives are impacted by television scenarios. (p. 187)

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