Shoutout to bell hooks!
*I’m disappointed in Black women! Yeah, I said it! Now before you stop reading, hear me out. I’m not disappointed because of the “Nightline” special or the subsequent responses around the ‘net.
I actually applaud the response, because most blogs, essays, articles, I’ve read dealt with the exploitive nature this topic is taking on. What I am upset with is the response, or lack thereof, to the expanding empire of exploitative Reality TV shows.
Each week there’s an announcement of a new show that continues to push the envelope of tackiness towards the abyss and with each premiere I see legions of fans flock to some of the most disturbing images of Black women since BET’s “Uncut” was taken off the air. But I know what you’re saying, “That’s not me on that TV.” That’s where you’re wrong, that is you showing your ass every week on VH1 or BET, because there’s people around the country that have limited interactions with Black women, so all they have to go on is what they see on TV.
Much like I’m forced to wear the stereotype of a potential criminal, the angry Black guy, a shiftless, non-committal baby father or if I’m thought to be just plain ol’ ignant thanks to the Mayweathers on HBO’s “24/7”, you’re fighting media representations that showcase you in a less than flattering light.
Dr. Dorothy Height helped to prove that Black women could fight a war for equality on two fronts, but her work was all in vain if a blind eye is turned to the irresponsible use of the Black female image. For every Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey or Claire Huxtable, there’s a Nene Leakes, Tiffany “New York” Pollard, Royce Reed, a houseful of chicks vying for Flavor Flav, Real, Chance or Ray J, plus Frankie and Neffie! And if you haven’t noticed, these characters are hatched weekly. Less than a week after “Basketball Wives” premiered on VH1, it was announced that “Football Wives” was being developed to air later this year and just a few days ago plans for a new show named “Diary of a Hip Hop Girlfriend” was revealed. Notice the trend; we’ve gone from wives to girlfriends, what’s next, “Drug Dealer’s Baby Mamas”?
In thousands of households last night there was someone watching the behavior of the basketball wives that saw the Nightline special and thought to themselves, “I see why Black women can’t get married.” It is painfully obvious watching the show that money doesn’t buy class and those dollars don’t amount to common sense. That is, unless you’re Shaunie O’Neal aka the Puppet Master, executive producer behind the show who’s conveniently absent as the rest of the cast plunges from the surreal to the ridiculous. Seriously, Evelyn and Jennifer couldn’t be happy that Gloria and her fiancé (Matt Barnes of the Orlando Magic) are happy and building a great family, instead they have to project their experiences on her relationship.
We saw the warning signs a few years ago when Karrine Steffans’ tell-all book and subsequent promotional tour landed her on numerous bestsellers’ lists and Oprah’s couch, but we ignored it and deemed it as an isolated incident. Then came New York and her multiple shots at love (and stardom), Keyshia Cole introduced us to her dysfunctional family, Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise moved to Atlanta, Fantasia got real and the beat went on and on and on and now Teairra Mari is singing about her “Sponsor” while loose lips sink the sailboats of the Black family structure in the background.
Even the guy you’ve entrusted to project on-screen images of you (Tyler Perry), shoots the most one-dimensional, stereotypical views of Black women, but you continue to laugh and he chuckles all the way to the bank. It seems like Essence magazine would be the perfect vehicle to approach this problem, but they seem preoccupied with the ‘Single Black Woman’ problem and provide a platform for this new wave of entertainment and we all know Oprah’s just too busy to worry herself (or show) with what Black women actually go through daily.
Ok maybe I’m taking this too serious, maybe it isn’t my fight, and maybe years of double standards within our community has rewritten the definition of a Black woman and I haven’t updated my copy of Webster’s. That’s all hypothetical, but what is for sure, is there’s a large population of women watching this madness week after week as Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” has been rewritten by Nicki Minaj, Teairra Mari and the folks at Viacom.
About the writer
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.blogspot.com/