Call for Chapters: Representations of African American Professionals on TV Series Since the 1990

deadline for submissions: 
February 8, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
LaToya Brackett, University of Puget Sound
contact email: 

Please send an email with interest to The volume is almost complete but I am looking for several chapters as shared at the end of this call. Please see if there are any you may be interested in and we can discuss more about the requirements. I am looking for a quicker turnaround, but I am flexible. I can send a full CFP when you inquire.

Thank you.

Call for Papers:

Working Title: Representations of African American Professionals on TV Series Since the 1990s

Publication by McFarland Press

Edited by LaToya T. Brackett


Television is and has been a space of entertainment, knowledge producing, and representation. While television creates a space in which stories can be heard by those we may not hear from in our day to day lives, the potential effects of issues of representation in television hold serious implications for the ways in which fictional spaces in television get translated into the real world. Of those who are most affected by representations in television are those who are members of marginalized groups. This collection of essays specifically focuses on African Americans within television and their representations as professionals across various shows. The fairly narrow representation of African Americans on television is primarily comprised of short-storied characters who act in ways that enforcing stereotypes surrounding African American communities and cultures. As a break from these constant messages, this book aims to give space for analyses and understanding of depictions of African American professionals within television as a way for acknowledging, interrogating and potentially embracing regressive and progressive representations in television. The term “professional” defines someone whose type of occupation revolves around the general American standard that a job which requires a bachelor’s degree or higher is a professional job. A professional job requires special education, training or skill. This definition is a baseline understanding and qualifier for the shows, and their corresponding characters, that are selected to be analyzed within this volume. While the editor would like for your essays to use this definition in choosing and analyzing characters within television shows, the concept of professionality and the problems this definition may present may also be discussed within your submission. Listed below are some themes to consider discussing in your writing.

            Tackling stubborn stereotypes in representation

            Understanding the historical connections to contemporary representations

            Connecting and contextualizing characters across shows

            Need for representation of African Americans in more professional roles

            Deconstructing the new narratives of African American characters

The definition of professional

            The lack of representation in professional roles

The more immediate strides being made behind the camera, and thus reflecting in front of the camera

            What’s next?

Please send questions to


Abstract and outlines will be required first. After discussion a draft will be due in March. 3500 words.


Themes and Shows to be Incorporated in the Volume:

            Listed below are general descriptions of the topics covered in each collection of essays (referred to as themes) and the potential shows that can be discussed under each section. In your submission, please be sure to indicate which theme and shows you will be discussing.


Theme 1: Law, Order and Politics

This section will showcase chapters discussing television shows where African American characters are the lawmakers and enforcers, not the law breakers. Listed below are potential televisions series that this text would like to focus on. Because this section has a lot of crossover themes within the genre, the editors of this book would like to see references to many different shows throughout analyses of both individual shows and across shows that share common themes of crime fighting, order keeping, and political endeavors.


Theme 2: Medical Professionals

 This section will showcase chapters discussing the doctors, nurses, and even paramedics that have graced the television screen since the 90s.


Theme 3: Educational Matters

This section will showcase chapters discussing the African American educators and education-based spaces on television. Chapters may discuss the lack of representation and connect it to past and current societal understandings of such a phenomenon as well.


Theme 4: Publicly Figured

This section will showcase chapters discussing African American characters who, in their scripted roles in a series, are playing a character that is famous or at least a major component to the community of which they reside.


Theme 5: Black Love: Couples and Families

This section will showcase chapters discussing African American characters that are in relationships, and who are also professionals in their career fields. Along with professional couples come professional parents with their families. It is imperative to discuss familial structural portrayals of African American families headed by professional parents. Couples and families are a diversity of experiences and should thus be showcased.


Theme 6: Fictive Kin: Professionally Aspired Friendships

This section will showcase chapters discussing African American characters on series that focus not around a biological family, but a fictive or gained familial structure. A definition or brief history of how fictive kin plays an important role in African American history is an important component to these section of the volume. In various shows, some characters are single but connect strongly with friends, and may even live with them. This section would be dedicated to shows that share alternative narratives of adult professionals who have not yet settled down to start a family.


Theme 7: New Professionals in New Television

This section will showcase chapters discussing African American characters in what is now considered a new volume of television. The most important aspect would be those scripted series produced by internet-based platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. However, online platforms which have allowed individuals to create their own web series, without an overarching “network” would also be potentially discussed.


Chapters Needed

The volume has acquired various chapters already, but the volume is missing some key components and the following are the areas in need of having chapters submitted. 

Chapter on Black women Medical Examiners (under Law, Order and Politics section) this could incorporate MEs from Bones, Law & Order: SVU, NCIS: New Orleans, CSI: Miami. The storylines of these black women have similar trajectories where their career is central in focus, yet the series added a child to their personal life adds a type of humanity to them that seems to otherwise be missing.

Chapter on sole Black detective/agent/officer (under Law, Order and Politics section). Shows that could be incorporated are CSI, Without a Trace, Cold Case and The Closer.

Person of Interest, CSI: Cyber, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and Wisdom of the Crowd (under Law, Order and Politics section) This chapter would focus on the representation of Black characters in the area of policing and technology. It can focus on several characters across the shows, not all are required. Being sure to discuss their professionalisms in storylines where the technology is central.

 A chapter about Ballers and The Game (under the Publicly Figured section) Focusing on the professionalisms of athletes and of the sports industry. And the playing out of fame in the scripted series.

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (under the Black Love section)

 Moesha, Sister Sister and Family Matters (under the Black Love section) The goal for this chapter would be to showcase the non-traditional familial structures. Along the lines of “Not the Cosbys.” While also focusing on the ways in which professionalisms are expressed by parents, and the experiences of education of the children.

My Wife and Kids, Bernie Mac Show and The Hughleys (Under Black Love section) The professionalism of main actors off screen, as comedians will be spoken of in this chapter. But also the role of black fathers on tv. And the type of work associated with the fathers in the series, and drawing any main connection between the shows.

Empire. (Under Publicly Figured section) This would be a chapter on its own, looking at the way that professionalism is portrayed in the characters, and how the music industry is showcased. Also the roles of the individuals to lead this family dynasty. The differences/portrayals of Andre vs the rest of his family in regards to what is professional. The way that multiple professionalisms are at play to create something unique. The professionalism behind making the series could be explored as well.

Please send an email with interest to

Editor's BIO: can be found at university website: