The television screen has increasingly come to serve as a complex threshold for images of blackness across genres. What could be termed “televisual reparations,” therefore, emphasizes the medium's attempts to address the paradox of black “unfreedom” and provide redress for continuing race-related grievances, especially those connected to histories of violence. Such televisual acts of reparation occur at the levels of television industry, text, and audience. The industry maintains a tenuous commitment to provide opportunities for African American producers, writers, directors, and actors to the degree that such practice continues to be helpful to the reputation of the medium as well as profitable. The programming created often comments on civil rights by mobilizing references to the past of racial injustice in a variety of imaginative ways. Reparations, in this way, underscore how blackness comes to be televisually transmitted to audiences through the realm of spirits—spirits that come to resonate with viewers and call forth engagement with, and response to, representations of black mortality in the afterlife of slavery.
Blackness and Televisual Reparations
Brandy Monk-Payton is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. Her published research engages with questions concerning race as they relate to topics in television, film, digital media, and celebrity. She is currently working on her first book project that considers the aesthetics and politics of contemporary black media representation and cultural production through the lens of publicity, exposure, and racial notoriety.
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Brandy Monk-Payton; Blackness and Televisual Reparations. Film Quarterly 1 December 2017; 71 (2): 12–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2017.71.2.12
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