C/O Ainsley Thurgood
A discussion on the underrepresentation and stereotyping of Black women in the media
When I was little, there was rarely any diversity in the music I listened to or the shows I watched. Most of the media I consumed highlighted White women such as Hannah Montana and Zoey 101.
Although I may have been partly to blame for what I chose to watch, the music and television industries were to blame as well. Later on, I remember how much I loved shows like “That’s So Raven” and it wasn’t until I reflected that I absorbed the lack of diversity in these industries, especially when I was a young child.
Although today we have many A-List Black female artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, SZA, Willow Smith and more, it's still a prominent issue. Black female artists do not receive the same recognition as White female artists.
Even employment in these industries is an issue, as there are more White individuals working in the industry than Black.
“We are supposed to accept what we are given because to be Black in this industry is thought to be even more of a privilege for us than for white artists,” stated VV Brown, a British indie pop singer-songwriter.
The lack of diversity and inclusion when it comes to Black females in the music and television industries runs deep. Often, the music industry won’t even accept more than one Black female artist at “the top,” pitting women against one another and creating competitiveness among fans as well.
Moreover, it can be seen as a societal issue, since these companies predominantly advertise with images of White females. This can make Black female artists feel left out and the lack of advertisment can impact their popularity. For example, it wasn’t until 2018 that a Black woman, Beyonce, headlined Coachella for the first time.
These societal issues can lead to the prolonging of stereotypes about Black females.
I myself have heard artists such as Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Rihanna speak upon the struggles they face being Black women in the industry.
Nicki Minaj specifically, has spoken about constantly having to defend her image and how it is important for women like her to not become timid or confined in what society believes is right. In her messaging to her fans, she tells them to actually embrace the stereotype. She encourages them to be loud, confident and bold.
It is important in helping fight stereotypes and underrepresentation to see Black women such as Nicki Minaj and Beyonce in positions of leadership. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the music and television industries, to undo the damage caused by past underrepresentation and stereotyping and foster true inclusivity.