Monday, January 3, 2011

Oprah's New Network, OWN isn't black enough?

That's the way alot of black people feel towards Oprah and her new network because of according to them, it's not Black enough. Read the article above to hear that perspective. Here are 5 reasons why this criticism is stupid.

1. Oprah has always catered to a general audience, she never targeted her show specifically for African-Americans so what makes you think she would be any different right now? She's always had a majority Caucasian audience because the timeslot and affiliates her show broadcasted in tended to be targeted for middle class Caucasian stay at home mom's. So there shouldn't be any surprise at "whiteness" of her network.

2. No one should ever take away from Oprah the contributions she has made to the black community, including starting a school for underprivileged girls in South Africa, financing films such as Beloved, The Eyes Were Watching God and Precious that told stories that many in the black community have experienced but weren't known by the general public, helping many in need through her Angel Network during Hurricane Katrina by building homes for them and so much more. 4 of the finalists on her new reality show called "Your OWN Show" are also African-American.

3. Oprah is with black people all the time, her best friends are African-American (Gayle King, Tyler Perry), her boyfriend is African-American (Stedman Graham), the president of her network is African-American (Christina Norman), many of her producers for her TV show are African-American, her radio network has some African-American hosts (Gayle King, Dr. Robin Smith, Dr. Maya Angelou, Derrick Ashong), she basically got the first African-American president his job (Barack Obama), 5 out of 8 people handpicked for her "Master Class" series on the new network are African-American (Dr. Maya Angelou, Oprah, Jay-Z, Sidney Poitier, Dr. Condoleeza Rice), as mentioned before 4 out of 10 finalists on "Your OWN Show" are African-American.

4. Yes, there is a need for improvement but the number of blacks in TV has come a long way, there aren't many fair, accurate or good representations of African-Americans on broadcast TV or cable TV these days but it's much better than it was 10 years ago, the host of ESPN's coverage of NBA and the BCS are black (Stuart Scott, John Saunders), the play-by-play man for the #1 program is cable TV is black (Mike Tirico), the hosts for FOX's and CBS' NFL coverage are African-American (Curt Menefee, James Brown), the weatherman for America's #1 morning show is African-American (Al Roker), the top scripted show on cable TV has a majority black cast (Meet the Browns), the #1 new scripted cable TV show of 2010 had a black cast (Are We There Yet?), the host of the #1 TV show during the summer is black (Nick Cannon), the top judge on America's #1 show is black (Randy Jackson) etc. But that is not to go away from the fact that we need more "Cosby Show" 's and less "The Wire" 's to show the general population that black people are just like everyone else and we need more black producers and writers to write scripts that appeal to the general population, not just black people.

5. Oprah doesn't owe black people anything, she can do whatever the hell she wants with her money, she met people like Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz and Suze Orman through trying to get help for her own self which in effect gave them opportunities to showcase their talents to the world. It doesn't mean she doesn't believe there are blacks who can do the same thing, it's just that she actually knows these people from other situations before TV came into play. While blacks are lacking in roles in scripted programming, especially positive ones, it's not Oprah's responsibility. We, as a people, should come together and do something to make the networks hear you. Networks care about making dough, not pleasing certain ethnic groups, if your not buying then they aren't selling.


Todd said...

One of the most painful things to see amongst black people are individuals who cannot objectively criticize our own. To say Oprah “owes us nothing” as so many of you have said, is to say that racisim and exclusion of blacks is a figment of our imagination.

So if Oprah owes us nothing, then what does corporate America owe us? What does NBC, CBS, ABC, American Express, Citi Group, Limited Brands, GE, The GAP etc. owe us. Why do we need affirmative action? Why should we expect “the man” respect us, include us, and give us opportunity when we don’t even have the same expectations for our “OWN”. Considering black unemployment is higher than any other demo, it is no wonder. If we can’t expect anything from our own, then why would we expect anything from an outsider…. or white society? This is the same concept of black people calling each other NI@@ER and expecting others to NOT call us NI@@ER. If we don’t respect ourselves and demand more from each other be it a self hating misogynist rapper, a loud mouth ghetto black woman on the bus, or a black female media billionaire, then why should anyone else respect us.

Sadly this post is replete with hypocritical and short sited concepts that protect those who have abandoned the black community and it’s nothing short of disgusting. How we treat the least of these is a basic concept that Jesus taught us (MAT 25:40). Continuing the cycle of treating people with color with the attitude of exclusion is a is bad look, especially when it is coming from our "OWN".

JMK said...

Todd, with all due respect, Oprah didn't and doesn't make her money solely off of black people; Oprah makes money off of programming that appeals to ALL and most of all MAKES MONEY. The entertainment industry is not about pleasing the needs of any community, it's about making money like any other business. Also, I don't understand how financial advice from Suze Orman or medical advice from Dr. Oz that they give to white people doesn't apply to a black person as well. Now, did I say the system is perfect? NO Did'nt I say there is a big need for improvement? HELL YEA I DID! There is not a single black anchor in primetime on cable news and there is only one black person on network TV potrayed as a protagonist and that's on a cartoon on FOX, but you can't hold Oprah responsible for making those changes!! It's like saying that even though Obama is president of the UNITED STATES all of his decisions should cater specifically to black people, it makes no sense. When we as a community support programming that we like, advertisers respond, as we have seen with BET's "The Game" for example, so yes we need improvement and alot of it, but we have come a LONG way from 20 years ago and Oprah doesn't need to have people on her OWN network because of whatever color they are, we are all Americans, stop living in the 60's.

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