In my mind, when I say that title, I say it in my Kanye, “George Bush Does Not Like Black People” voice. Jokes aside, mainstream Christian programming for decades has lacked a black voice in America. Programming has traditionally screamed southern, white, Evangelical seemingly since Christianity was brought to our screens.
(Re)Presentation is Everything
My mom used to watch Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes’, etc. on shows Trinity Broadcasting Network, but let’s be real, these were “black preachers.” Today’s platforms do a bit of the same. A search of the titles along the Pureflix streaming service shows a great lack of black content. There are a few “black movies,” and then there are movies with a black character or two, but it is very evident as to who the target market is. Yeah, thanks for the black content, I guess… but the issue here feels like tokenism. And its crazy that this is still a problem in mainstream world today…
There’s no variety in representation. All black churches do not operate the same. (Take my word for it, really.) It seems as if the lack of representation has remained consistent in terms of presentation on these platforms. This lack of representation, which is for the masses, arguably hurts perception of the church as a whole. In a mainstream world where people are more critical of religion, this singular presentation of Christianity does not aid in the overall perception.
This is a true microcosm of our society, in a way. While I won’t accuse these platforms of open racism, it is evident that this is a byproduct of minorities in mainstream society. Systemic racism, is what I mean here. In this case, a system that is created for the majority, by the majority, is excluding the minority Christian. Black entertainment in mainstream media is still viewed as a novelty, just like black people. America has long been xenophobic, and has long pushed the aforementioned idea of tokenism. It is still “black entertainment” and not necessarily “entertainment.” The fact that it often sits alone attests to this.
From Novelty to Normalcy
The sad reality of the matter here is that this represents the experience of the African American in mainstream society. It all boils down to representation. Black content will remain a novelty, a separate category, in mainstream society, as long black people remain a novelty in mainstream society. Niche content will continue to exist, and the “look at us, we have a black movie” continues to permeate. Sadly, it seems that even in context to the Christian sphere, black people are still just a novelty.