Where is the Black ‘New Normal’ in Primetime?
Where are [black Americans who are gay and raising families] in primetime? And again, this isn’t just about equal opportunities for black actors; this is also about being even moderately honest about family life in today’s America.
Seriously, if Modern Family was billing itself as fantasy television, then I’d probably be quiet. Notice, I have no qualms with that new ABC show about the family who discovers they live next door to aliens. If they don’t feature any black people on that show, that’s okay. As far as I know, there aren’t any black people in outer space. But there are black gay parents raising their kids in almost every city in America.
In fact, the typical gay family raising kids in America today includes at least one black parent. And not for nothing, they’re not living in a luxury apartment in Soho or in a rambling mansion in Hollywood, but rather in Jacksonville, Florida, the city with one of the largest numbers of same-sex parents in the country.
Bless Wanda Sykes, Lee Daniels and LZ Granderson — affluent, black entertainment insiders — for openly sharing their trials and tribulations as black parents who happen to be gay. But, wouldn’t it be nice to have just one black gay family to see in primetime? They don’t have to be any more ‘real’ than David and Bryan on the New Normal with their perfect house, perfect jobs and a super cute surrogate with a quirky daughter. I can see it now: a black lesbian couple raising twin boys in Florida. One woman is a civil rights attorney and her partner is an interior designer from New York who hates the South. Shonda Rhimes should get on that. If she doesn’t do it, who will?
Hopefully, with the success of The New Normal, a sitcom featuring a white gay male couple with an assitant played by reality queen NeNe Leakes, there will be more room on the air soon for this type of show. But for diversity on TV to reflect that of African-American families, the public will have to let the networks know what “the new normal” has been for blacks for some time now.
“The public has to push the media to do the right thing,” Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), told theGrio. As the head of a civil rights organization that fights to promote the rights of black LGBT families, Lettman-Hicks recognizes the importance of positive media stereotypes, but she’s not holding her breath waiting for Hollywood to lead the way. “I give a lot of credit to some of the black media for doing responsible coverage of our community, but [Hollywood needs] to catch up,” she says.