Civil Rights Group Targets SNL for ‘Deficit of Black Onscreen Talent’

The long-running sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live has gotten some attention recently for the lack of black women on the cast. Cast member Jay Pharoah said it’s about time SNL hires one, while Kenan Thompson said they haven’t found any black comediennes who are ready to be a Not Ready for Prime Time Player. Now the civil rights group Color of Change is setting its sights on SNL for lacking a single black woman.

Rashad Robinson, the executive director of ColorOfChange, sent an open letter to showrunner Lorne Michaels and the producers of the show, calling them out for “the callous, monolithic representations of Black people peddled by SNL” on numerous occasions.

SNL has had exactly three black women in its cast in its 38-year history, and hasn’t had one since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. Since then, Robinson charges that SNL has been putting on offensive caricatures of black women.

Whether it’s Kenan Thompson in drag as the crass, sexually aggressive “Virginiaca,” or white cast member Cecily Strong voicing “Verquonica” — a “large, non-functional” (i.e. overweight and lazy), unmistakably “Black” Starbucks coffee machine — SNL seems committed to aggressively continuing to push images of Black women as incompetent, rude, hypersexual and financially dependent. Frankly, we’re tired of this disrespect.

Robinson requests a meeting with Michaels by no later than Wednesday, November 6th to “discuss how you will improve the situation at SNL.”

Following Thompson’s comments about the lack of black female talent applying for the show, three such comedians called him out for the assertion and for how irrelevant SNL has become anyway.

[photo via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac