Yes, Virginia. There is a writing ghetto.

“What I think is also interesting is when we’re hiring writers for the show we send out a call for writers. They only sent us white writers. It wasn’t that I could tell from the writing, it was when we started meeting people, I kept thinking, ‘Where are the writers of color?’ And then when I called the agents and said, ‘[Where] are the writers of color?,’ they said, ‘Oh, you want writers of color!’ which they put in a separate category, which I find very disturbing. And I’m going to work to do what I can to make that change, and I think all the writers out there should be calling their agents and sort of demanding that you don’t segregate us based on a category in that sense.”

Shonda Rhimes

The above quote from Shonda Rhimes is frustrating. It’s doubly frustrating for women of color because it seems as though that which involves race remains dominated by male voices and that which deals with gender remains dominated by voices that are generally female and white. And so you must fight simply to make others aware of your existence. You must fight to be considered for that small selection of projects “reserved” for minority writers—projects that aren’t really reserved for minority writers at all if a notable writer who is white and male desires them; projects that aren’t really reserved for women writers of color because they aren’t the writers who come to mind when an editor or a director is even considering hiring a minority writer in the first place.

It’s a problem. And I don’t have the foggiest notion as to how to help solve that problem outside of the comics genre. In comics, if you can draw, you simply create your own project. You don’t need Marvel or DC. You need a pen, a sheet of paper, a scanner, and a story. But what about that woman who has a brilliant idea for a television series? Or a video game? Or a movie?

How can I make equal access to job opportunities a reality instead of mere lip service? As a consumer, how can I help to change things? I’ve written letters to producers and network executives stressing the importance of diversity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those letters were never even read. I feel impotent.