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The Erasure of Black Stories

My feelings as a Black Storyteller

By Diedre Montegue

Rap Sh!t. Bigger. Ziwe. The Wonder Years. Our Kind of People. Swagger. Love Is. These are just some of the many Black television shows that were beloved by many, yet ultimately canceled. 

Television star and screenwriter Issa Rae said in a recent interview with Net-A-Porter that she is concerned with the recent industry changes (i.e., streamers’ increased influence, the power of profit-focused Wall Street investors), which could lead to more uniformity and fewer Black stories being given the green light. 

“You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives – especially on the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) side – get canned. You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority,” Rae said.

She mentioned that these changes have inspired her to take further steps towards achieving independence in the future. 

“I am pessimistic, because there’s no one holding anybody accountable – and I can, sure, but also at what cost? I can’t force you to make my stuff. It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to,” she said.  

As a future journalist committed to telling Black stories that reflect our whole experience, this both saddens and strengthens me. 

It saddens me because despite us making impactful and powerful stories that reflect our true humanity, these are also the first shows on the chopping block for cancellation.

Watching the television show Ziwe was incredibly refreshing as a Black woman. Seeing someone who looks like me create impactful and hilarious comedy content resonated deeply. Much like Rae, her unapologetic authenticity only elevated the content.

It was disheartening to hear Ziwe’s show was canceled as well. It makes me realize that ultimately, our stories, our voices, our perspectives, and our impact are only valuable when it comes to how much revenue is to be made – most of which goes to executives who may have no idea what the impact of having shows like these mean to our communities. 

However, it also strengthens my heart to know that Rae is looking to go independent in the future. When we own our own studios or news media companies, we can ensure that our stories remain authentic and accessible to all. Although this is a more difficult road, it may be one that many of us will have to consider to keep our stories alive.   


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