Race and the Emmy Awards, the Powerful Documentary from Serena Williams, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we’ve taken a glance at the historical role of race in the Emmy Awards, a personal look into the body-loving benefits of the new documentary Serena, a Republican’s fight against Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, and an exploration of the inner workings of what occurred in the courtroom for Abigail Fisher’s fight against affirmative action.

Over at Vulture Gazelle Emami, Devon Ivie, Sarah Ruddy, and Leslie Shapiro collect in-depth information about the racial history of the Emmy Awards. With just days left until the end of voting for the much-anticipated TV awards, Vulture investigates the exact statistics and racial politics regarding nominees and winners alike, all broken down via genre.

Not surprisingly, there are far more people of color in supporting roles than leading ones on shows nominated for Emmys (making Davis’s win for Outstanding Actress in a Drama last year, quite literally, unique — she is the only actress of color to ever have won in that category). Among the nominee categories, Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress, for both Drama and Miniseries, have been the most diverse. Miniseries in general have been kinder to actors of color: Among the winners, the Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries categories are the most diverse categories. (This is due in part to the subject matter of many of the nominated miniseries, which often tell historical or biographical stories that focus on minorities.)

On Refinery 29, Arianna Davis relates Serena Williams’s devastating tennis loss to learning to love one’s body and why the newly released documentary, Serena, really is a must-see. The author neatly ties together the power and pressure of being a black female athlete amongst your white or thinner (or both!) counterparts.

But while I rooted for her throughout the entire film, there was one particular moment that brought on the goosebumps and tears. When the director, Ryan White, asks Williams about the constant criticism she receives about her frame (a strong, beautiful body that the media has created a racist, misogynistic, and transphobic conversation around), Williams says, “The prototype of a tennis body is like, someone that’s really thin and really tall and really lean. And I have hips, boobs… I have all this extra stuff that I’m carrying around.” After explaining that she struggled with that when she was younger, she says she has grown to believe she is beautiful. And then she adds, quietly: “I love my body, and I don’t really care about what anyone else says about it.” This, y’all, was an Oprah-level Aha! moment for me — a Black girl whose perception of her own curvy body was shaped early on by her mostly white teammates on the volleyball court, now a Black woman whose self-image is shaped by mostly white colleagues and media imagery. A Black woman who is perpetually trying to lose weight from her thick legs and curvy middle to work toward an imaginary goal of “thin” — then beating herself up when she fails.

On Politico, Harriet Tubman’s $20 bill takeover is still being called into question. More accurately, it’s being entirely refuted by Republican Representative for Iowa, Steve King. Writer Matthew Nussbaum examines King’s continuous effort to negate what would be a necessary, historical, and powerful representation. Besides, whichever face is on it, I’m sure he’d still be spending it.

“It’s not about Harriet Tubman, it’s about keeping the picture on the $20,” King said Tuesday evening, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. “Y’know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have.” The conservative gadfly said it is “racist” and “sexist” to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency. “Here’s what’s really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”

On Huffington Post, Christian Farias breaks down the battle in the courtroom regarding Abigail Fisher and the University of Texas’s fight against affirmative action within colleges. He recounts the victory for those who value diversity (as well as those who have any common sense). Meanwhile Abigail Fisher, also known as #Beckywiththebadgrades, continues to be (appropriately) dragged by Black Twitter.

“Diversity and equal opportunity have become bedrock American values. At a time when our country is increasingly divided, university campuses provide critical opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds to interact, learn about one another and become informed citizens and leaders,” said the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in a statement. “This decision affirms this principle.” Fisher expressed disappointment in Thursday’s decision. “I hope that the nation will one day move beyond affirmative action,” she said. Blum, who has also spearheaded lawsuits against affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling could lead to a weakening of “the social fabric that holds us together as a nation.”