The platform allows viewers to peek behind the curtain, over the fence and through the cracks of black identity worldwide.
Who here hasn’t been frustrated by mainstream television shows? With hundreds of channels on the air at any given time, it doesn’t seem as if there is anything to watch. The constant bombarding of tomfoolery that passes for entertainment combined with negative images makes it hard to settle into viewing.
For minorities, the struggle to find quality programming that doesn’t thrust stereotypes like the angry black woman, the loud sister-girlfriend, the jailbird, deadbeat dad or womanizing black man is few and far between. The communities that these figures on television represent are negatively portrayed and perceived off-screen. These false perceptions seep into everyday life and affect hiring practices, the criminal justice system and even expectations of low achievement.
KweliTV has positioned itself as the go-to streaming source for filmmakers of color across the globe and for folks seeking shows that have stories they can relate to with a more global perspective. Dubbed as the ‘Netflix for black people,’ KweliTV is changing how people of color watch content. High-quality global documentaries, news programs, independent films, educational content, news programs, and movies are available for streaming. Many movies have been vetted by international film festivals from the diaspora in the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, North America, and Europe.
Founder, DeShuna Spencer says, “When I wanted to see a representation of us on tv there’d be eight episodes in a season, if at all, and I’d have to wait a year for the following season. Kweli shows authentic content and fills that space, so you don’t have to wait.”
Unapologetically black, KweliTV fills the void
of innovative content with hundreds of titles
and new content added every Wednesday.
Spencer’s goal is to make KweliTV a source of authentic storytelling for the black community from a relatable point a reference. Representation matters. Swahili for ‘truth’ Kweli aims to tell black stories from all sides. One of the stipulations that Spencer has put in place for content is that the main character needs to be of Africa descent. “Not a sidekick. The black person has to be the main character,” she firmly contends. Living up to the platform’s tagline, Our culture. Curated. Spencer watches every single show to ensure that KweliTV isn’t “perpetrating any stereotypes.”
Filmmakers earn money on the platform based on how long people spend watching their content, and they get paid quarterly. About 60% of KweliTV ’s revenue goes towards filmmakers. Annual membership is available for $49.99, and a monthly membership for $5.99 is available on an unlimited number of screens. KweliTV places emphasis on their community and offers value-added discounts to African Ancestry, Heritage Box, Mahogany Books, Nubian Skin, Cards For All People and Ujamaa Box. Monthly subscribers also have access to Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku and Google Play & iOS.“When I started KweliTV people told me that Americans don’t want to see international life. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, we plan on rolling out a multi-language feature where viewers can select films in their native tongue,” Spencer says. She also wants to hold events in the US and international cities that celebrate the black community. Unapologetically black, KweliTV fills the void for innovative content with hundreds of titles, and new content added every Wednesday.
Watching shows on KweliTV feels familiar and curious at the same time. The platform allows viewers to peek behind the curtain, over the fence and through the cracks of black identity worldwide. In these shows, we see life through the lens of characters that we don’t encounter in our lives. The world opens up on our screens. This is a fundamental component in dispelling the monolithic portrayal of black culture. Spencer was propelled to take a proactive stand in bringing together a broad range of content with narratives that were not mainstream. KweliTV is positioned for incremental and organic growth, and the timing is long overdue.