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It’s hard to believe in 2014 we are still talking about the importance of diversity on television; more specifically the importance of African Americans on television.
Here’s why it’s even more surprising, Nielsen, the respected company in America that tracks television use and ratings show African-American consumers are 43 million strong and are more aggressive consumers of media and they shop more frequently.
Blacks watch more television (37%), make more shopping trips (eight), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28%) and spend more than twice the time at personal hosted websites than any other group.
That’s why it comes as a shock to many people in America that a show as popular and revered as Saturday Night Live has not had a black, female cast member since 2007. Six years.
Many people on social media believe it’s not a big deal, writing, “Maybe because they didn’t find a funny one? Why is it quantity over quality?
Another person wrote, “Slow it down a bit. Maybe there aren’t enough black female comedians who meet SNL’s criteria. How come no Asians? Riddle me that.
As I said to a television writer last night on CNN, not having an Asian or another minority on the cast is not an excuse.
It only serves to magnify the problem.
Saturday Night Live hired six new cast members in 2013, five white men and one white woman. Not one black woman was in the group.
Every night in America you can walk into any comedy or improv club and see black women doing their thing and doing it well.
Don’t believe me? I challenge you to go to a comedy club this weekend.
Now, bowing to public pressure and criticism the show announced on Monday that it had hired New York comedian Sasheer Zamata just four years after she graduated from The University of Virginia.
She makes her premier on the show on January 18 when Drake is the musical guest.
Look for a Beyoncé spoof for sure, something Zamata says she’s good at.
And you’ll probably see a wicked Michelle Obama.
You can also look for a whole lot of scrutiny and criticism from some who are looking for an excuse to say she got her job to fill a quota, because she’s black.
That always happens from people who don’t understand the need for diversity and who don’t understand why it’s important to expand and enhance traditional recruiting methods to find diverse talent.
That said, it probably won’t be easy for Zamata who in the glaring spotlight that’s about to be trained on her is going to have to be a whole lot funnier than she is black.