30 Rock's Rejection of White Guilt

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Like half the people in my small world, I'm a little sad to see 30 Rock go, but also a little glad that they didn't overstay their welcome. (This has been a pretty good season actually.) One thing that I don't think 30 Rock gets enough credit for is how it handles race. I don't know how many black writers they've had on the show—Donald Glover and Hannibal Burris are the ones I know. But I'm really having a hard time thinking of a mainstream show (one that wasn't a "black show") that better handled race. 


I think they did that by not actually handling race or black characters so much as interrogating whiteness. Some of the best scenes on the show come from the portraits of whiteness and a kind of white maleness ("I like Tracy Jordan. Dude's a baller. I like that you've got a slut on the show, even if she is a little boned out.")

And they did this without apologizing for being white, without giving a diversity lecture, but by just being the thing. I'm going to miss that.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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