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

LaToya Brackett's picture
Call for Papers
August 26, 2018
Washington, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Communication, Ethnic History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies



Keywords: Television, African Americans, Professionals, Stereotypes, Representation


Editor: LaToya T. Brackett, University of Puget Sound


I am looking for chapters for an edited volume under contract with McFarland Press, focusing on how African Americans professionals have been portrayed in scripted television since the 1990s. There have been several assigned chapters already, and this call is especially looking for contributions under the law and order section and medical professional section.


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?


Submission Guidelines

First please reach out to LaToya T. Brackett via email at: to inquire about your potential submission. After which you will submit the following:

  1. An abstract (no more than 300 words)
  2. A detailed outline of your proposed chapter, including television shows to be discussed and what theme your chapter would align with, beginning with the main theme/thesis/framework to be utilized throughout. Also a statement referencing how it will focus on the professional careers/aspects of the characters. This is essential to ensure the focus on African Americans as professionals, in this edited volume. Continue with outlining major sections of your chapter to allow for an overall vision of what you will accomplish.
    1. LaToya will communicate with you after receiving your outline about the alignment of your vision with the vision of the overall volume
  3. A short biography (max. 200 words)


Deadline for abstract, outline, and biography submission is October 1st, 2018

First Draft of Chapter is due November 19th, 2018. See details below on Chapter guidelines.


Chapter Submission Guidelines

Your final submission must be double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font and must include a Works Cited Page. In your writing, please use language that is accessible for both academic and general audience. To minimize future editorial work, use the active voice, third person, and parenthetical in-text citations with author and page information. For documentation and style, please refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (6th edition). More detailed style guide will be provided as well.

Authors will be responsible for acquiring permissions for any images or other elements that may present copyright issues. A signed copyright release must also accompany the final manuscript to ensure that the copyright of all essays remain with the project. Most chapters will be approximately 3500 words including citations.


Please send questions to


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.


Television Shows to be Covered

Listed below are the television shows that can be used in your writing. Shows that should be analyzed together will be grouped by parenthesis, and shows that are already being covered will be indicated by their titles being stricken through.

  • (Scandal
  • How to Get Away With Murder)
  • Law & Order
  • Chicago PD
  • CSI
  • Without a Trace
  • Cold Case
  • The Closer
  • (Person of Interest
  • Wisdom of the Crowd)
  • Chicago Med
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • E.R.
  • Private Practice
  • Chicago Hope
  • House
  • (The Quad
  • The Parkers)
  • (Everybody Hates Chris
  • The Steve Harvey Show
  • Hanging with Mr. Cooper)
  • Smart Guy
  • (Ballers
  • The Game)
  • One on One
  • Being Mary Jane
  • Empire
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  • Blackish
  • Grownish
  • A Different World
  • Queen Sugar
  • (Moesha
  • In the House
  • Sister Sister)
  • (My Wife and Kids
  • Bernie Mac Show
  • The Hughleys)
  • Lincoln Heights
  • The Parent ‘Hood
  • The House of Payne
  • Army Wives
  • (Malcolm and Eddie
  • The Jaimie Foxx Show
  • Martin)
  • Living Single
  • Girlfriends

Please reach out for more information, and also a full call for papers.




Contact Info: 

LaToya T. Brackett, PhD