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Michael Che Makes SNL History by Sharing Our History

Che is first black head writer for SNL

 Photo credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

New York City native, Michael Che, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2013.  Five years later he has been announced as a head writer for the show. Che is the first black comedian to earn this honor, but what does Che’s accomplishment represent for African Americans in culture?


It means our voice continues to join the majority.


Google dictionary defines comedy as a form of “professional entertainment consisting of jokes and satirical sketches, intended to make an audience laugh.”


Just who is the audience? In television, the majority consumer is the audience. Networks, such as NBC, generate revenue from advertisers based on viewership. SNL has had many black comedians come and go, which might make this news easy to dismiss. However, the decision to promote Che is a direct reflection of how our popular culture continues to shift.


By naming Che head writer, SNL is placing trust in his broad appeal, which is directly tied to the material he generates. To further understand the significance of Che’s promotion, we must look at what contributed to the shift in the new American audience.


I credit the rapid rise of social media as a big proponent of the new American audience. Social media has leveled the playing field by not only providing all consumers with a voice, but giving them the opportunity to identify trends and to engage in ongoing dialogues.  


Once silenced in the past, the minority voice is now deemed valuable. Historically, television has been written to fit the narrative of white families, and with a now established narrative that speaks to many populations, SNL’s timing says a lot about today’s consumer.


Che is a logical choice clearly based upon his talent and capacity. His advancement also speaks to the African American perspective as a significant voice in today’s America. Currently, we are not living in the calm before the storm; we are living in the storm. We look forward seeing his perspective as we make our way through it.