Black people, stop begging for scraps and steer own narrative

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Thakane-Rethabile Shale

Sunday, 14 April, saw the premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones, a show that has for the past seven years left most of the world enthralled. As with any great offering, there are of course a number of critics of the show. While they varied, one school of thought seeks to berate the writer George R R Martin of not including enough black characters in his offering. They claim that even the sparse black faces in the show are portrayed as slaves and none belong to any of the great houses.

There is no point in me going on about how realistically a show set up in a certain part of the world would, of course, have a lot of white characters, this view is not limited to Game of Thrones. A lot of cinematic universes have been berated about the lack of inclusion and diversity. It is a different thing to insist that African characters be played by black actors and another thing entirely to demand that people should write black characters into their stories when they have no need to or simply do not want to. A story set in Sudan would be pretty bizarre if there were no black faces around, but to demand that a story set in what could be medieval Europe have an African king is not only preposterous but borders on a sense of entitlement that I cannot even fathom.

If we as black people are not happy that we are not being included in fantasy television the solution is simple, we can create our own fantasy series and depict ourselves in a manner that suits us. Are we annoyed that we are always portrayed as slaves and servants? Then we portray ourselves as kings and whatever we damn well please. It is laziness and a sense entitlement to berate people who have created their own series and demand inclusion on our terms.

For years, black people have whined about their portrayal in the horror and … genre, until Jordan Peele came forward with first ‘Get Out’ and subsequently ‘US’. Did complaining and being entitled give us what Peele gave us? No! He created the universe and narrative he wanted.

More than at any time in history, black people are in a position where they have both the technical knowhow and support to create their own cinematic universes and advance the narratives that suits them, instead we are wasting our energy in petitioning for inclusion! It must be a cruel joke. All these petitioning are proving us incompetent of creating our own art and, therefore, we must beg for scraps!

If one takes a moment to watch Hispanic and Asian TV, you will find that they are creating content that suits them. Watch a Hispanic TV show and you will find none of the stereotypes that you find about Hispanic in mainstream Western media. I personally learnt that Asian culture is much more multi-faceted than Kung Fu and geishas after watching content created by Asians.

It, therefore, seems simple enough that if we, as black people, want the many facets of our lives to be seen then we must produce our own content and steer our own narrative. It is embarrassing that we are still begging for scraps. Meanwhile, George R R Martin does not owe us any inclusion in the universe that he has created. 

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