You want to know a surefire way to make an “ethnic” person’s blood boil? Tell them they are getting too much representation in Hollywood.
This morning, I was completely and utterly outraged while reading Deadline’s piece titled, “Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings — About Time or Too Much of a Good Thing?“, which was blatantly ignorant and, well, pretty darn racist. Thankfully, the article is now coming under attack from the likes of celebrities like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder executive producer Shonda Rhimes, who pretty perfectly summed up my feelings on the subject in a tweet:
1st Reaction:: HELL NO. Lemme take off my earrings, somebody hold my purse!
2nd Reaction: Article is so ignorant I can't even be bothered.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 25, 2015
The original article quotes various anonymous sources, all of whom are boohoo-hooing over the fact that “only non-Caucasian actors would be considered” for what one talent representative said is “basically 50% of the roles in a pilot.”
Now, I don’t know what rock these agents are living under, but Hollywood is still heavily underrepresenting minorities. Just because we’ve had some successes only in the past year doesn’t mean the tide has completely turned. And even if there is an actual mandate for half of new TV pilots to have non-white actors, do they know the actual statistics of the population of the United States of America? Let me break it down for you:
The latest estimates from the Census show that white Americans represent 77.7 percent of the population, black or African-Americans 13.2 percent of the population, Asian 5.3 percent of the population, American Indian or Alaska Native 1.2 percent of the population, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.2 percent of the population and Hispanic or Latino 17.1 percent of the population.
If you look at this, it would seem the numbers are skewed in Deadline’s favor. But the truth of the matter is these numbers aren’t necessarily what you think they mean — 2.4 percent of the population reported they are “two or more races” and only 62.2 percent reported they are “white alone, not Hispanic or Latino,” meaning there’s more than a 15 percent discrepancy in this number and the original 77.7 percent.
As a Latina, I know that many Hispanics (my dad included) report their ethnicity as white on the U.S. Census, completely ignoring the “Hispanic or Latino” category. Even worse, confused Americans change their identity from one census to the next, something the U.S. Census Bureau is trying to address the next time it asks about race and ethnicity.
But forget about all that. Forget that the U.S. population is going to be a very different mix by 2050, with Hispanics, blacks and Asians making up half of the population. Let’s forget all that and look at the television landscape today, as Deadline so poorly attempted to do. If we simply look at the television shows currently on air, do we really think minorities are fairly represented? Are we really making up, say, at least 40 percent of castings?
I sincerely doubt so. While the tide may be turning for the 2015-2016 season, it, in no way, indicates there are enough different faces out there. While we may have seen some successes this year with How to Get Away With Murder, Empire, Jane the Virgin, Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, it, in no way, means this makes up for the countless shows out there that have maybe one black, Latino or Asian character, if they’re lucky. The tide may be changing, sure, but we are nowhere near where we need to be in 2015 in terms of fair and accurate representation.
While I am glad to see I’m not the only one who is outraged over Deadline’s ridiculous article, it is still upsetting to see a major publication publish — and then not apologize — for this ridiculous piece. My only hope is that so-called “ethnic castings” continue and that the actors I admire (of any color) take this new emphasis on diversity as the great thing it truly is.
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