The Disney owned television station, the American Broadcasting Company, ABC, was once a television network that hasn’t always been forward-thinking in their prime-time programming. Prime time are the hours when there are more viewers than at any other television viewing hours. But nowadays, something good has happened. The TV program lineup is filled with a myriad of the different forms of our human ‘diversity’.
What is diversity? Well, diversity is not a construct which only describes every one of us, but diversity is represented in TV productions like the new situation comedy[sitcom], ‘Speechless’, within which we have a delightfully humanized ‘special needs’ individual as the central character. Physical disabilities or challenges do not make anyone less human or even less capable. Shows such as this offer broader perspectives that enable us to identify new aspects of ‘able’.
Diversity is reflected in prime-time, 8pm-11pm, on Thursday nights on ABC, known as “TGIT” [Thank God It’s Thursday]. Courtesy of the creative genius and forward-thinking mind of creator-writer-producer Shonda Rhimes, the driving force of “Shondaland”, we have ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, and ‘How to Get Away With Murder’. Ms. Rhimes is an African-American woman of power, who rules on that night. America needs to see life from a different vantage point, with characters who are indeed real people-women, people of color, LGBTQ, Asian- all formerly TVs ‘hidden’ figures. Let us portray real life as it happens in real people’s lives on the TV screen!
Diversity is life-real life. It is also the show, ‘black-ish”, where every episode presents life lessons to America, cloaked in a little bit or a lot of ‘funny’. After all, this country can only process small bits of other people’s reality for 30 minutes at a time. Just enough each week! Some of that TV realism may not be a reality that many readily admit to, acknowledge or are even aware exists, but none of the situations brought into our homes is too far from truth. And, all of this is presented as it relates to the ‘dominant’ culture, you know, mainstream America.
At this point in our lives, in American history, the ‘dominant’ culture is no longer white, men, nor the traditional middle-class family. The truth is that we live in a nation populated by people of color- cultures never having been White Anglo-Saxon Protestant in their countries or regions of origin. America IS globalism, without fear of the ‘other’, which includes African-Americans, whose heritages are as deeply rooted in this country as any person who also calls themselves American. Diversity is America without fear of groups of people who enter this country, for the most part, eager to acculturate and contribute to this economy, whether with documentation or not. That is good, and is what makes this America!
ABC presents America with snapshots of itself. It is both the mirror and the windows into who we are and who we wish to represent to the rest of the world. If we are or believe that we are truly intelligent beings, then it allows us to cut through the bulls..t, yours and mine, and with brave assurance, alters our immaculate perceptions-those implicit biases- regarding others. Those ‘others’ are the strangers with whom we are afraid may be better, faster, stronger than we. Therefore, these stereotypic perceptions of ‘difference’ offers comfort. Rest ye assured that this sense of comfort is but temporary pacification, for this Disney affiliate is not just cartoons and animation.
ABC now brings real life into our homes via excellent 21st Century programming, and that makes me feel more proud to be an American. It is that “Modern Family”, whose values and experiences reflect the real American family than does life ‘Keeping Up With the Khardashians’. On the other hand, the newly emancipated Ms. Jenner has become a voice of and for the Transgender community. I did say ‘a’ voice, not ‘the’ voice, for every one of us has a unique voice and equally unique stories to tell.
In a world where ‘diversity’ has been acknowledged, we have yet to arrive at a collective place of total respect, acceptance and appreciation, but the ABCs can be found on ABC TV networks across the country and around the globe. We have to begin somewhere, so why not start at ABC? Acknowledgement is good, but unconditional appreciation without fear or implicit bias of ‘diversity’ is where we need to be should we sincerely wish to be ‘great’ as world leaders. The ultimate reward in so doing is a more perfect ‘union’ with compassionate and empathic human beings.
My disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the Walt Disney companies, or any ABC affiliate television network. I am just spreading joy wherever I may see it- it is really as easy as A,B,C! Do you agree? Opinions…we all have at least one, and it’s only fair to share!