The erasure of black girls in Nickelodeon is disturbing to say the least.
In the wake of diversity, I once read an article on how Hollywood is erasing black women. How big film executives would go for mixed black women then calling it diversity. The kind of women that look black, but not ‘too black.’ Think, light skin and loose blonde curls. Like many people, I thought this was crazy because Black Panther was about to get released. Black Panther was one of those films with an all-black cast. Beautiful, strong and smart black women came in plenty.
Over the next few weeks after Black Panther, I started to see less and less of black women. Brown skin, dark skin black women were almost nowhere on TV.
Nickelodeon, a network my little niece enjoys was also guilty of this. At first, it didn’t disturb me. After three or four shows with no black girls around, I thought, who approved this to an African audience? Our children, well, majority of our children are not light skin, curly haired. They have beautiful shades of brown skin and hair in curls, kinks and coils.
It’s at this point; I looked back at all the Nickelodeon shows my niece has watched. It was clear, Nickelodeon has a colorism problem. Sick. The Nickelodeon of 2019 is way more different from the Nickelodeon of the 90s. The 90s had all kinds of black girl leads. They were funny and beautiful, something I easily related with. Nickelodeon today, is not my cup of tea. What happened Nick?
Now, before I begin, I’ll let you know that I have no problem with the actors mentioned below. Here are some of the shows with a clear colorism problem.
‘Knight Squad’ was named the first live action black princess on Nickelodeon. Great! There’s only one problem. Their ‘black’ princess looks something like this.
Even their animated series, ‘Princess Nela the Princess Knight’, has a black dad and a white mum. It’s funny how it was celebrated as a great step towards diversity in animations. What diversity?
Nela’s mum is white, why couldn’t she be black? Nickelodeon doesn’t think we deserve to be queens either.
‘Instant Mum’ is a story about a black family navigating life with their step mum. Played by Tia Mowry Hardrict, she’s biracial and so is her step daughter.
‘Cousins for life’ has an all-black cast, the dads are black, the boys are black. As expected, the girl is biracial. This show is a lot more disappointing because you know black people created it.
I also noticed supporting characters were racially ambiguous too.
Mae Valentine, Dawn’s best friend from ‘Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn’ is Latin and African American. I like Mae’s character. I don’t understand why they had to keep straightening her hair.
In ‘Game Shakers’ Triple G’s mum, is played by Amanda Payton. If you guessed she’s biracial, you guessed correct. Although we’ve only seen her a few times, it doesn’t hide the fact that they couldn’t hire a black woman.
In ‘See Dad Run’ Emily Hobbs, the oldest Hobbs siblings has a best friend played by Jaylen Barron. She’s only been on the show a few times but we can see why. Big curly hair, light skin, how could you miss it.
Here’s something else that disturbs me about Nickelodeon’s casting. When you look at all the black boys and men, they’re all blackity black. Dark skin black men and boys are all over the place. When did Nickelodeon executives sit down in their round table and decide, hey, let’s have dark skin black boys/men but make the girls lighter. It’s almost like they’re telling little black girls everywhere, you can’t be a princess, a knight, a supporting character, unless you’re mixed with something.
I wonder how they conduct their auditions. Do they ever sit there and pretend to be interested when a dark skin girl auditions? Do they give them false hope? Like hey, you did great when in fact they’re just waiting for the light skin girls. Give them the roles and be on their way.
Even after all this mess, they did get one thing right. Charlotte in ‘henry Danger’ played by Riele Downs. Her character is smart, beautiful and has natural kinky hair. Love her. There was an episode where Ray, Captain Man, went back in time. However, an older Ray somehow managed to get into the portal. When he meets Charlotte he excitedly says, “President Charlotte” I swear that gave me all kinds of feels.
Riele Downs is black, the kind of black that’s so hard to find on Nickelodeon these days. Whew! chile!
Look, there’s nothing wrong with mixed/biracial kids but you have to admit, Nickelodeon has a colorism problem. This colorism only seems to affect black girls.
Am hopeful for Nickelodeon’s casting will change, eventually. Meanwhile, I explored other channels and my niece seems to love them. I have no plans in supporting a network that doesn’t value its viewers.
What’s your take on Nickelodeon’s colorism?