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Black Writers Make Up Just 4.8 Percent of TV Writers’ Rooms — Study

Color of Change highlights the dismal representation of black writers in television, and links the disparity to harmful stereotypes.

ATLANTA -- "Nobody Beats The Biebs" -- Episode 105 (Airs Tuesday, September 27, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles. CR: Guy D'Alema/FX

Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”

Guy D'Alema/FX

Leading racial justice organization Color of Change released a damning report detailing dismal numbers of black writers and other writers of color in television, and how that leads to the proliferation of harmful stereotypes. The report, titled Race in the Writers Room, claimed “networks and streaming services are systematically excluding Black talent from the writers’ rooms.” The report found 65% of all writers’ rooms had zero black writers, with 91% of showrunners across all 18 networks being white and 80% men.

The report continues: “The ultimate result of this exclusion is the widespread reliance on Black stereotypes to drive Black character portrayals, where Black characters even exist at all—at best, “cardboard” characters, at worst, unfair, inaccurate and dehumanizing portrayals.”

AMC, TBS and TNT had both no women showrunners and no people of color showrunners, and CBS, FOX, Hulu and Showtime had no people of color showrunners. 100% of shows on AMC, Hulu, Showtime and TBS had only one Black writer or none at all, with Hulu having no Black writers at all. 92% of shows on CBS, which aired 25 original scripted shows last year (second only to Netflix), had either just one Black writer or none at all, the majority with none at all. The report acknowledged that the CW has become stronger on diversity with respect to race and gender overall, but consistently excludes black writers from that progress, with 14 of 15 CW shows hiring only one black writer or none at all, 11 with none.

“When those of us in world of advocacy talk about systemic racism, this is what we are talking about,” wrote Darnell Hunt, who penned the report.

Hunt did single out ABC and FOX for supporting black creative voices, showrunners and writers, to much popularity and success, but found that “most others have dug in their heels, even in the face of those successes.”

AMC and Amazon were among the worst in terms of excluding black showrunners and writers, which Colors of Change found particularly worrisome given they are relatively new platforms for influencing the trends of original content on TV.

Read the full report here.

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