BUZZ Op-Ed: Racism in Soaps: Are We Really Supporting Diversity?

We have all seen messages on social media how networks are doing more for diversity and inclusion in their programming. However, is this really the case? One has to wonder when you have shows that does not have any, if at all, African-American writers, directors, producers behind the camera, and then you have actors who barely get any screen-time.

Recently, I came across a post on X, and it showed how their African-American actors/characters did not even crack the top 20 of the month of appearances. One of them just won their second Daytime Emmy Award, while the show won Outstanding Writing and Drama Series where the episodes centered around a black character. Interestingly enough, the actress won a posthumous Emmy Award last year. Some fans have felt that shows only showcase their black characters when it best suits them. Others seem to have gone an even nastier approach.

Fans started saying, as we like to call it, the quiet part out loud, on social media. I have come across messages about how one character should know her place as a maid instead of having a say in corporate business…even though she has money now and became involved in business ventures. Others have said that a young actress looks like, “a monkey.” Another even went as far as to call her the “n” word. It has become such a constant, the actress had to release a statement about the hate messages she had to endure.

What I want to know is where is the discussion amongst peers? Where is the support? If networks are advocating for diversity, and one of your own has to break silence on the consistent hatred spewed at them online, why are we not seeing anyone come in their defense? We are so busy advocating for something that we should not be, yet when this happens, we go radio silent. Characters are being written in ways that we deem insulting or fitting the narrative. Could, “The Gates,” finally break the mold come 2025?

I think what I am trying to say is… is there racism in the soap genre? In this sense, I think it falls under systemic racism. We do not have anyone that knows how to write for African-American characters, and we do not utilize them to the best of their abilities. We have strong actors that can lead story, yet we do not and relegate them as a side story. Why are fans so reluctant to see African-Americans in positions of power? Why do they not want them to drive story? Why are they not in powerful romances?

I will end with this comment. We deserve better than what we have currently.

4 thoughts on “BUZZ Op-Ed: Racism in Soaps: Are We Really Supporting Diversity?

  1. And they also forget that soaps biggest audience is black women. To hear folks say these things aren’t surprising, but ppl horrible opinions have seeped into our soaps.
    Once again black ppl seem to always saved every institution and it will be blk women who will saved this soap opera genre. SMH- big sigh-

  2. It’s so good to hear you speak, amplifying your own voice and perspective and not just creating space for others. In a way, that’s exactly the problem, white voices have been the leads and left little time the minorities, or even varieties.

    If anything is to change, the first step is always acknowledgement of the issue. I truly hope that your platform can help with this and bring about an evolution. People can’t just keep doing the same thing and hope for better results, it doesn’t work that way. Without this evolution, if they resist taking the next step, the industry will continue to fade away.

  3. This kind of racism, neglect, and poor treatment of Black actors goes all the way back to Ellen Holly, original cast member of “One Life to Live”, who detailed how she was sidelined and treated like a second-class citizen for most of her time on the show. When Victoria Rowell spoke up about the lack of minority representation behind the scenes on soaps, as well as the microaggressions and discrimination she endured on “The Young and the Restless”, she was labeled as “angry”, “problematic”, and “unstable” by certain co-workers, culminating in her departure and blacklisting by CBS President Les Moonves and Sony executive Steve Kent. Now, years later, the issues both Holly and Rowell first called out, dismissed back then, are finally being addressed and believed. However, still not enough is being done to correct and solve the problems, racism rearing its ugly head, the quiet parts now being said out loud, especially on the internet. Not only has Victoria Rowell been vindicated, but deserves an apology.

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