Who often gets asked about television as a whole? About people of color on television? About black women on television? Who’s expected to act as broadcast television’s conscience and diversity czar? Shonda Rhimes. And every minute she’s asked to spend serving that function, valuable and necessary as it is, and perfectly understandable as it is that people are curious about her experiences, is a minute she’s not answering the same questions Damon Lindelof gets, or Joss Whedon gets, or Chuck Lorre gets.
But, as Black men entered all facets of American life and became not just NFL quarterbacks and NFL head coaches but also CEOs, mayors, governors and secretary of state, television proved largely unwilling to explore these exemplars of success on either the small or big screen. There seems to be an inverse correlation between the real life achievement of Black men (and other men of color, and women) in the United States and the willingness of popular culture to explore seriously the ramifications of these achievements. This reluctance has only deepened during the first term of the Obama presidency.