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Beyond Colbert: Why We Need Progressive People of Color on TV

Posted on Apr 17, 2014

By Sonali Kolhatkar

(Page 2)

On issue after issue, communities of color tend toward more progressive politics in general, and for this reason at least progressives should not just aspire to see a more diverse media landscape but demand it. As this conservative analysis fears, a more diverse America will mean less conservatism in the future. And this is a good thing.

Today’s media landscape faces multiple challenges including the coming flood of electoral advertising revenue as a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC, and an imminent merger between two giant telecommunications companies, Comcast and Time Warner. With the spaces for a free press narrowing each day and the unfettered dominance of moneyed interests in our electoral politics, an independent, diverse, representative media is absolutely crucial to our democracy now more than ever.

Right now my own community radio station, KPFK Pacifica, is attempting to break into the tightly controlled television market. Pacifica Network, one of the oldest and most venerable broadcast institutions in the country, has partnered with Free Speech TV, one of the very few television outlets showcasing progressive politics, in the hopes of bringing a greater diversity of voices to television. Without corporate backers to underwrite the project, we have turned to the public in the hopes that a hunger for more diverse news programming will drive ordinary people to crowdfund a campaign to televise the show that I host, “Uprising.” Written and produced by two women of color, our program is by no means representative of the entirety of racial, ethnic, immigrant and native communities of color in the U.S., but it is a good start to the conversation that progressives must have even as they celebrate Colbert’s move into a coveted network TV slot.

Television is where the majority of Americans obtain news and information. If democracy depends on informed decision making by the public, how information is presented, by whom and with what political bent, naturally shapes policies that affect us all. It is past time that personalities behind the microphones are people we all can relate to.


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The campaign to televise “Uprising” hosted by Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar ends April 30. Donations are being accepted here.

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