(There's even a song.)
The question is not "Is Lena Dunham racist?"; it's "Is Lena Dunham any more racist than the rest of us?"
Recently, there's been a firestorm over the lack of diversity on Lena Dunham's HBO zeitgeist-apalooza, Girls. I will not rehash what has previously been hashed -- but if you missed it: Jenna Wortham wrote this critique of the blandness of the characters and casting of Girls; then the Twittersphere went apeshit; then Molly Lambert informed us that it's not Dunham who's racist, it's all of TV.
So, now you're up to date -- except for one thing: It's not TV that's racist, it's us. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: TV (especially right now) is far more of a reflection of who we are as a society, than who we ought to be.
TV, like the United States, is incredibly diverse. However, like our country, it is also quite segregated. You may not like it, but TV is a mirror image of America in the 21st century.
Segregation in America peaked in 1960. For the next 20 years, the country grew more diverse and more integrated -- at a rapid rate, neighborhoods less likely to be "all white," "all black" or "all anything." However, in 1980, that progress began to slow.
From 1980 through 2000, even though the country on the whole became more diverse, the rate of integration for all neighborhoods across the country declined greatly. And, a study from Brown University shows that from 2000 to 2010, the rate declined even more rapidly -- all but coming to a complete stop. In fact, by some respects, integration of races by neighborhood even regressed in the last 10 years.
The average white person lives in a neighborhood that is 77 percent white. While that's an improvement over 1980, when they lived in areas that were 88 percent white, it is surprising (and disappointing) to see how little progress we've made in 30 years. Black families -- the most segregated American minority -- overwhelmingly live in predominantly black neighborhoods, and segregation for Hispanics and Asians has actually begun to increase. To a certain extent, the more diverse we become, the more likely we are to each live in our own ghetto.
So, no, it did not surprise me to see Lena and her besties living in a 'white girl ghetto' -- even in New York diver-City; or to see The Game have an all-black cast; or to see Jersey Shore have an all-guido cast. Despite all our protestation and our diversity, we are segregating ourselves and TV is reflecting that back to us.
No, we don't have to like it. But, as the slogan goes: It's not TV, it's America.
Listen to 'Everyone's A Little Bit Racist' From Avenue Q:
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