Monday, September 26, 2011

TV Guide ErasesTaraji P. Henson in their 'Person of Interest' Cover

It has always been tough to be a Black woman in Hollywood. At this years Emmys, 25 awards were given out, and of the six people of color that were nominated, no one took home a golden statue.  So as far as Hollywood is concerned, we are most definitely not post racial. One of the most anticipated new shows this year is Person of Interest. It stars, Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, and Taraji P. Henson.  TV Guide is apparently doing a feature on the show but it is only interested in Emerson and Caviezel.  Hmmm what would that be?  Henson is an Emmy nominated actress so it's not like she doesn't have the chops to be recognized.  Could it be because Emerson and Caviezel, are both White men?  Yeah, that's what I think and so does Taraji P. Henson.

She took her disapproval to Facebook and Twitter

WOW!!!! TV Guide is NOT including me on the cover with my cast memebers……..I am the female lead of a 3 member cast and I’m not included on the cover!!!!!! Do you see the sh*t I have to deal with in this business…..I cram to understand!!!!

 Of course TV guide didn't mean to be racist and sexist.

According Debra Birmbaum, the editor in chief of TV Guide: “I made an editorial decision to do a story about the relationship between the two male characters on ‘Person of Interest’ and that’s who I was going to put on the cover.  That has been my decision all along, ever since I saw the pilot. We’re certainly fans of Taraji Henson and her storyline on the show was never intended to be the focus of our cover story. I don’t know where there was a misunderstanding about this, but it’s been clear to everyone from the start. I don’t make decisions on who is put and not put on the cover based on race or gender… This week’s cover September 26 issue features the three stars of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ — Minka Kelly,  Annie Illonzeh and Rachael Taylor. We are not pursuing a cover of ‘Person of Interest’ at this time.
They aren't racist because they did a cover that included a Black woman in an ensemble cast.  Nope, this time, it's about the relationships between two White men that count.  Birbaum would like us to believe that somehow magically she has avoided internalizing sexism and racism and therefore they did not factor into her decision.  Gee, I would love to visit the magical world where she lives. The truth of the matter is that you cannot just ignore race and gender when it is supposedly convenient.

Birbaum had no problem erasing Henson, but she is a big huge fan.  Wow, isn't that just heart warming. The industry is such huge fans of Black women, that they are continually erased, cast as prostitutes, maids, drug addicts, bad mothers, sexually promiscuous and then killed.  One is more apt to see a WOC in any of the aforementioned roles, than as a leading character in a drama, or situation comedy and so it is especially hurtful that now that Henson has managed to snag a role that does not fit into these categories and the industries response is to erase her. Whether or not Birbaum wants to admit it, her actions are inline with racist/sexist treatment that women of color face everyday.

It is not accidental that Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel became the center of TV Guide's story.  Women of color do the grunt work in this world, and White men reap the benefits.  As White men, both Emerson and Caviezel exist with class privilege and they represent the institutional power of both patriarchy and Whiteness.  The power and privilege they both access and wield is limited to men akin to them.  This is why on any given night on television, one can see White men in a variety of roles.  Considering that White men are continually centered what is there really to be learned by sitting down and having a conversation with Emerson and Caviezel?  If TV Guide, really wanted to offer something new to its readers, Henson should have been the focus of their story -- but I suppose they felt that she wouldn't sell in the same manner that Caviezel and Emerson will. We all supposedly hurt when oppression happens, but somehow capitalism always seems to ensure that Whiteness and patriarchy end up ahead.