“Ethnic, Ethical, and Excellent”

by Latoya Peterson

Soul Train
Soul Train

During the Saturday Snowpocalypse Two that hit the East Coast, I happened to catch VH1’s documentary “Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America.”

The description on the VH1 site says:

Few television series were as innovative and influential as Soul Train. Set first in Chicago, and later in Los Angeles, the Soul Train dance party reached national significance and became the longest running syndicated show in television history. In commemoration of its 40th anniversary, Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America is a 90 minute documentary celebrating the show’s many contributions to pop culture, music, dance and fashion. From 1970-2006 the series offered a window into the history of Black music, and its charismatic host, Don Cornelius was The Man responsible for a new era in Black expression. A trained journalist, Don created a media empire that provided an outlet for record labels and advertisers to reach a new generation of music fans. As the epitome of cool, many of his expressions entered the popular American lexicon: “A groove that will make you move real smooth,” “Wishing you Peace, Love and Soul!” The documentary will feature performances and great moments from the show, as well as behind-the-scene stories and memories from the cast and crew. In addition, popular musicians, comics and actors of yesterday and today will comment on growing up with the show and will share their stories of how Soul Train affected their own lives.

Soul Train was an unapologetically black space within the landscape of television. (This doesn’t mean other races/ethnicities were excluded, but more on that later.) Don Cornelius used to say that he felt black media (and by extension, Soul Train) should be “ethnic, ethical, and excellent.”

That small concept was fascinating.

What does it mean to have ethnic media?

What does it mean for that media to be ethical?

And how do those two factors work along with excellence?

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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