A Space for People of Color, By People of Color. Be Cool.
A Space for People of Color, By People of Color. Be Cool.

Hey wanted to post this kick ass article over at Vulture, about the lack of black girls in teen dramas.

Here some excerpts.

Having to see yourself where the filmmakers can’t is a common dynamic for black girls watching teen stories, where token black teens are given paper-thin characterization. Black girls in teen dramas and comedies can be outcasts (Rochelle from The Craft), scrappy head cheerleaders (Gabrielle Union’s Isis from Bring It On), mere background color (Gossip Girls, Mean Girls, Pretty Little Liars), sassy rich girls (Dionne from Clueless), single moms (Kerry Washington’s character in Save the Last Dance), disciplined vampire slayers (Kendra from season two of Buffy the Vampire), and sometimes, good friends or romantic partners (Felicity, Boy Meets World). What unites most of these characters, despite their differences in culture, social strata, class, and style, is one frustrating commonality: They’re ultimately ciphers. At first glance, CW’s highly addictive, self-aware series Riverdale, which ends its first season this Thursday, felt like a show that finally allowed people of color, including black girls, to be more than window dressing or vehicles for lessons about race

At the least, Riverdale’s Josie, Valerie, and Melody aren’t stereotypes, but they rest in the same troubling space that the black girls in films like Save the Last Dance occupy. They’re not characters so much as they are a vehicle for a Message™. Josie and her fellow pussycats are positioned to communicate the message that Riverdale is more modern and inclusive than teen dramas of the past, even though it has yet to prove it beyond its casting.

Growing up, I still delighted in how, through sheer force of personality, the black girls that traveled through these stories became thunderstorms daring you to ignore their presence. But I yearned for them to also be crafted like the Nancy Downs and Buffy Summers of the world — complicated, dreamy, a bit weird, and struggling with issues that didn’t always revolve back to race or gender (or at least, showed a more complicated picture of these themes). In many ways, Riverdale represents the crossroads teen dramas currently find themselves at — between the so-called diversity of the past, in which black girls were primarily ciphers, and something a bit more complex and emotionally true.


The Whole thing is worth the read. Read it and come back so we can discuss.

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