Racism Permeates Our Entertainment and Music Industries Says Expert

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Historically, racism has permeated the American entertainment and music industries including movies, radio, television, and the recording industries.

Blacks and black life have not been portrayed accurately and African Americans have been kept out of prime roles.

However, there is some hope that the industries are taking seriously the recent claims of systemic racism and are trying, to some degree, to improve. So says Dr. Akil Houston, associate professor of Cultural and Media Studies at Ohio University.

He notes that some improvements have been made since the recent killings of black men and women by white police officers but that any progress will be slow coming to an entertainment industry that is still white-centric.

Dr. Houston highlights the racism that has been standard practice in the movie industry, television, and radio since their inception. He also talks about how racism has long been the cornerstone of the music industry.

He is a cultural studies scholar who is multifaceted. He is a filmmaker, DJ, social critic, and hip-hop scholar. Dr. Houston specializes in Africana media studies. His scholarship and research are interdisciplinary.

He notes that “looking white” was a distinct advantage of early black entertainers in getting roles. He points to Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll as examples. He claims they got roles that dark-skinned blacks couldn’t get.

He also explained that many of the early roles for blacks on radio comedies and dramas were actually played by whites trying to talk in so-called black dialects.

Dr. Houston sees some encouragement in the explosion of new television shows, movies, and series through outlets such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. He says that the current genres give more space for a truer depiction of black life in America.

He also says the younger generation of Americans are less likely to stereotype race and are more culturally diverse and inclusive than previous generations.