The “Blackwashing” of MTV

MTV has dominated popular culture, making it a divisive force in what Black millennials see. It shapes how we view and function ourselves in American culture. Yes, we have BET – but BET has lost its touch on depicting blackness – so it seems that MTV is moving into a direction that I would call “blackwashing.”

Blackwashing is the inclusion of blackness in popular culture; however, this has been problematic with shows like “Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta” or “Real Housewives of Atlanta” that depict an unfair, one-sided view of blackness. MTV, being at the pedestal of popular culture for many decades, is beginning to “blackwash” its programing in a more positive light.

This summer, MTV released a 40-minute documentary titled “White People.” It debunked many phenomena around the essence of white privilege and how it affects whites in certain spaces.

A pivotal moment in the documentary was about white people getting scholarships – an issue that has been brought up ever since affirmative action was in place. The popular discourse was that they do not receive them as often as minorities. This was proven to be false as the documentary proceeded.

By placing the issue of race on screen across the country, MTV is altering how white people and minorities view race. Race has now become the “hot topic” to talk about, but being a Black person, you have to look at MTV with a side eye and ask “Why now?”

Race has been an issue in America for centuries and as a Black millennial, race is not a hot topic … this is our reality. However, many people may argue that the Black Lives Matter movement has become a trend and that MTV is trying to shift the conversation.

Another summer MTV release was “Uncommon Sense,” a show that is driven by “Black Twitter” and hosted by Charlamagne Tha God. Charlamagne has been labeled the face of coonery, so it was expected to relay that image. On the contrary, “Uncommon Sense” is great at depicting that Blacks have a voice and contribute toward popular culture.

Issa Rae, the creator of “Awkward Black Girl,” a web series that depicts the main character “J” being placed in uncomfortable situations, will join MTV’s lineup of shows. “J” is a nerdy Black girl, which is almost despised in our culture, but is the narrative of many Black girls today.

I am enjoying the fact that MTV is moving into a direction that highlights more pressing social issues. MTV has always been a social agent depicting the lives of the silenced, and now that race is on the screen, we will see how it connects the conversation of race with popular culture.


Javon Wilson

Contributing Writer – Opinions


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