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Watching While Black: Centering the Television of Black Audiences
edited by Beretta E. Smith-Shomade
contributions by Racquel Gates, Nghana Lewis, Mark D. Cunningham, Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, Reighan Gillam, Nsenga Burton, Timothy Havens, Eric Pierson, Robin Means Coleman, Andre Cavalcante, Kristen J. Warner, Christine Acham, Devorah Heitner, TreaAndrea M. Russworm, Jennifer Fuller and Kim M. LeDuff
Rutgers University Press, 2013
Cloth: 978-0-8135-5387-0 | eISBN: 978-0-8135-8328-0 | Paper: 978-0-8135-5386-3
Library of Congress Classification PN1992.8.A34W38 2012
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.4508996073


 2013 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Television scholarship has substantially ignored programming aimed at Black audiences despite a few sweeping histories and critiques. In this volume, the first of its kind, contributors examine the televisual diversity, complexity, and cultural imperatives manifest in programming directed at a Black and marginalized audience.

Watching While Black considers its subject from an entirely new angle in an attempt to understand the lives, motivations, distinctions, kindred lines, and individuality of various Black groups and suggest what television might be like if such diversity permeated beyond specialized enclaves. It looks at the macro structures of ownership, producing, casting, and advertising that all inform production, and then delves into television programming crafted to appeal to black audiences—historic and contemporary, domestic and worldwide.

Chapters rethink such historically significant programs as Roots and Black Journal, such seemingly innocuous programs as Fat Albert and bro’Town, and such contemporary and culturally complicated programs as Noah’s Arc, Treme, and The Boondocks. The book makes a case for the centrality of these programs while always recognizing the racial dynamics that continue to shape Black representation on the small screen.  Painting a decidedly introspective portrait across forty years of Black television, Watching While Black sheds much-needed light on under-examined demographics, broadens common audience considerations, and gives deference to the the preferences of audiences and producers of Black-targeted programming.


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