I’d like to think I was raised simply enough. Chicago, during the early-to-mid 90s. Gunshots every day, murders every night, home before dinner because otherwise you’ll be next to end up in a wooden box. Okay, so, maybe not so usual. But one thing that was always concrete, consistent, was the TV I watched. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, and The Cosby Show.

Pretty standard way to grow up if you’re a black kid somewhere in America. And save for the real-life version of the last example, you wanted to be like the main character (s) in these shows. More than likely, they had it better than you did, whether financially or just situationally. And with so few TV characters with which we could identify, I often found myself questioning “is that all? This the best you can do for me, Television?

Must I be forced to watch Arnold from The Wonder Years ponder his life of getting wedgies and getting spurned by Winnie while I grow up, instead of dealing with serious problems like I face in the Hood?” Even Netflix is lacking in many ways, with so much of its content. Luckily, one very special black entrepreneur is changing that.

 

KweliTV is the brainchild of CEO DeShauna Spencer, who told the LA Times, “The actual owners of [mainstream media] typically don’t look like us.” Asked why an all-black streaming service is necessary, she aptly replied that the media “won’t preserve our stories as well as we can.” And studies show that she’s absolutely correct.

Black people are depicted as being poor 59% of the time in media, even though they only represent 27% of the overall figure of those in poverty in America.  Representation is important. It goes a long way to establishing a positive self-image, especially for people of color. This is something we already know. I mean, I personally spent a good 20 years hating my skin color. A very identifiable predicament for most of us.

Kweli is projected to reach 30,000 subscribers by years end. Its name “Kweli” means “truth” in Swahili, and every time I see it I can’t help thinking of Kanye’s verse in “Last Call” when he references Talib Kweli:  

“Call him ‘Kway-Lee, or Quawl-Lee, I put him on songs with Jay-Z.”

Point being, you can pronounce it either way.  

According to Business Insider, the Kweli.TV official launch date was September 28, 2017. And it’s rapidly growing. Business Insider mentions the streaming service brings in “content from North America, Europe, Latin America, The Caribbean, and Africa. 98 percent of the films featured at film festivals around the world and more than 65 percent are award winning.” There should be something for everyone with this kind of variety. But most importantly, something for us and by us. At present, it hosts over 200 viewing titles and over 7,000 hours of content. Included in the service are a host of other special features:

  • #WokeWebSeries: The live, weekly 30-minute show will give an on the ground report on news affecting black people around the world – from police brutality incidents, new legislation, protests, policies, petitions, etc. The solution-based show will be hosted by activist-journalists Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever (a diversity coach and media commentator), and Janaye Ingram (an activist and lead organizer of the Women’s March on Washington), who will tackle issues affecting black lives by interviewing community organizers and leaders across the globe.
  • 60-seconds of Comedy: Enter the lives of the world’s up and coming comedians of African descent, giving you 60 seconds of pure vlog hilarity. Can a comedian make you laugh in just 60 seconds?
  • #BlackRundown: A fast-paced, daily countdown show that will highlight the top five most important news stories impacting the entire African diaspora.
  • Meet the Filmmaker: A one-on-one interview with upcoming and prolific independent filmmakers of color across the globe.

Streaming prices are currently 5.99 a month and 49.99 for the year. I implore you, please support the cause. I’ll be getting my subscription by months end. So should you! Start your free 7-day subscription today. Here’s the link.

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Author

Alex Miller is a freelance writer living in Harlem. His work has appeared in Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other places.