TV Reviews: New TV Shows Take On the Hazard of Working While Black
In recent years, television has become a platform for exploring complex social issues, and one recurring theme that has gained prominence is the experience of working while Black. Two new shows, Hulu’s “The Other Black Girl” and Showtime’s “Dreaming Whilst Black,” delve into the hazards, complexities, and microaggressions faced by Black individuals in predominantly white workspaces.
The Other Black Girl: A Tale of Tokenism and Betrayal
Hulu’s “The Other Black Girl” introduces us to Nella, an editorial assistant at a Manhattan publishing house. Nella, brilliantly portrayed by Sinclair Daniel, encounters the all-too-familiar scenario of tokenism when a well-meaning white colleague sends her an article titled “The Token in the Corporate Machine: Being Black in a White Workplace”. While her coworker’s intention may be to be an ally, Nella realizes that this gesture reinforces the image of a token Black employee, rather than truly recognizing her as an individual with unique needs and desires.
The show raises important questions about the nature of allyship and the ways in which marginalized individuals can be pitted against one another. When Nella confronts a white author about a problematic character in his novel, she discovers that her supposed ally, Hazel, does not have her back. This betrayal highlights the harsh reality that not all “skinfolk” are “kinfolk,” and that the pursuit of individual success in a predominantly white workplace can sometimes come at the expense of solidarity within the Black community.
Dreaming Whilst Black: A Lighter Look at Tokenism and Microaggressions
Showtime’s “Dreaming Whilst Black” takes a lighter approach to exploring similar themes. The show follows the life of Kwabena, an aspiring film director stuck in a dead-end office job. Kwabena is confronted with tokenism and microaggressions when his white coworker seeks film recommendations for a date with a Black woman, relying on stereotypes and insensitive choices. Through witty dialogue and relatable moments, the show explores the often-ignored microaggressions faced by Black employees, such as being pressured to eat lunch away from their desks due to the smell of their food.
Kwabena’s experiences reach a tipping point when he is confronted with white people confidently singing racial slurs in a karaoke bar. This moment of discomfort forces him to confront the power dynamics in his workplace and ultimately leads him to quit his job. The show cleverly addresses the contradictions and absurdities of navigating a predominantly white workspace as a Black individual, highlighting the profound impact of systemic racism and cultural insensitivity.
A Comprehensive Depiction of the Black Experience in Workspaces
Both “The Other Black Girl” and “Dreaming Whilst Black” offer nuanced and thought-provoking depictions of the Black experience in predominantly white workspaces. From the pressures of tokenism to the subtleties of microaggressions, these shows shed light on the complexities faced by Black employees as they navigate a corporate world that often values symbolic diversity over genuine progress.
These shows also tackle broader issues such as race, class, gender, and upward mobility, presenting a comprehensive exploration of the challenges faced by marginalized individuals. They serve as a reminder that the struggles of being Black in a predominantly white workplace are not isolated incidents, but reflections of larger societal issues.
Conclusion: A Timely Examination of Power Dynamics
In our current social and political climate, it is essential to foster conversations about power dynamics, representation, and allyship. “The Other Black Girl” and “Dreaming Whilst Black” contribute to these conversations by highlighting the hazards and complexities of working while Black. They invite viewers to critically examine their own prejudices, assumptions, and behaviors in diverse workplace settings.
These shows provide more than just entertainment; they offer valuable insights into the experiences of Black individuals and the urgent need for change in how we navigate and understand diversity in the workplace. By watching and engaging with these stories, viewers can gain a deeper understanding of the importance of equity, empathy, and genuine allyship in creating inclusive and supportive work environments for all.
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