African Americans on Television Race-ing for Ratings


African Americans on Television: Race-ing for Ratings

David J. Leonard and Lisa A. Guerrero, Editors


A comprehensive look at the history of African Americans on television that discusses major trends in black TV and examines the broader social implications of the relationship between race and popular culture as well as race and representation.

Previous treatments of the history of African Americans in television have largely lacked theoretical analysis of the relationship between representations and social contexts. African Americans on Television: Race-ing for Ratings fills the existing void by supplying fundamental history with critical analyses of the racial politics of television, documenting the considerable effect that television has had on popular notions of black identity in America since the inception of television.

Covering a spectrum of genres—comedy, drama, talk shows, television movies, variety shows, and reality television, including shows such as Good Times, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Chappelle’s Show—this insightful work traces a cultural genealogy of African Americans in television. Its chronological analysis provides an engaging historical account of how African Americans entered the genre of television and have continued to play a central role in the development of both the medium and the industry. The book also tracks the shift in the significance of African Americans in the television market and industry, and the changing, but enduring, face of stereotypes and racism in American television culture.

• Presents up-to-date commentary that reflects on trends, specific shows, and developments of very recent television seasons
• Offers a historically based treatment of African American television accompanied by complex yet accessible cultural criticism
• Transcends a narrow focus on “good representations versus bad stereotypes” to reflect on resistance, the connections between societal trends and blacks in television, and the complexity of representation

Sample Topics
A Different World
Chappelle’s Show
Children’s Programming
Diff’rent Strokes
Good Times
Oprah Winfrey
Racism on Television
The Boondocks
The Cosby Show
The Jeffersons
Tyler Perry


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