Tag Archives: Real Housewives of Atlanta

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Heidi Renée Lewis

By Andrea Plaid

Heidi Renee Lewis. Courtesy of the interviewee.

Heidi Renée Lewis. Courtesy of the interviewee.

Once again, Mark Anthony Neal–aided and abetted by one David J. Leonard–committed the kindness of introducing me to another cool-ass groove in African American-ness, this time on his Facebook page in the form of Heidi Renée Lewis and her post on Li’l Wayne and his politics of cunnilingus.

After reading her smart essay–and seeing how she dealt with some fooligan respectability-politics criticism in the thread about her post being fluff under the guise of an academic-sounding title–I had to be friends with her. We friended, and I’ve been deep into her brilliantly funny loving-The-Community commentary on vids about gospelizing over chicken, praise leaders losing their shoe trying to be cute and jumping on cheaply made tables, and people doing the Robot at church services (among other ones) ever since. Hanging with Heidi is like hanging with that one wild-ass play cousin whose pithy ongoing social commentary has you holler-laughing for days.

In other words, totally Crush-worthy.

Of course, I talked to Dr. Heidi…but I had to talk about her lively ass, too! Check out what I said to Crush alum Tamura Lomax about our latest one…

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Can we hold fellow black women to blame for sabotaging our image on TV?

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

On Sunday, I was happy to catch up with blogger New Black Woman. (Definitely visit her blog and be sure to check into her recommended reading list.) I’ve been wanting to talk about her recent post, “”Why do black women continue to sabotage our image?“–a lamentation on the poor portrayals for black women, particularly on reality TV.

Black women are well aware there is indeed a lack of diversity in the array of characters we’re allowed (yes, allowed because these characters are concoctions of a producer or writer’s mind) to portray. The majority of black women on television are making waves in reality TV shows, which are typically edited in a way to play up to the expectations of viewers to see more drama, more cat fights and more angry black women. We do not have the luxury of having 10 different shows that feature 10 different characters of black women. We don’t have the diversity in characters to show mainstream America that we, too, are just as diverse as the white women they encounter on a daily basis.

As black women, however, why do we keep doing ourselves this disservice? Why do we continue to support the madness by proudly embracing the angry black woman stereotype on reality TV, by watching these shows and relishing in the drama black female characters convey to viewers?

This link to the clip from Sunday’s Celebrity Apprentice episode in which the never-ending drama between NeNe Leakes and Star Jones is a prime example of how black women are portrayed–and how they portray themselves–in reality television. In the clip, Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame bolsters her “street game” by rolling her neck and talking smack in Jones’ face. The white onlookers, including birther,racist fraud Donald Trump and nonsensical rapper Lil’ John, look on amused as if they were expecting the drama to happen. Read More

I share New Black Woman’s disdain for the way black women are framed in the media, including reality television. But I wondered if it was fair to hold other black women accountable for those portrayals. What follows is our discussion.

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Are You a Credit to Your Race?

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

As last week’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” post has played out here and on What Tami Said and Racialicious (where it was crossposted), I have been thinking about what it means to represent the black race and how black people act as ambassadors to the mainstream world. There is this tendency, from which I am not immune, to feel embarrassed by and to make excuses for black folks who behave badly, or rather, act in a way contrary to a certain set of values and accepted norms. There is a real reason for this compulsion: Black people and other people of color are often unfairly judged as group by the mainstream. In other words, the actions of one equal the actions of all. And so, many of us, learn from the time we are children to mind ourselves around white folks–to not do anything that brings discredit to black people and, ideally, to live life with the goal of uplifting the race through our actions. Admittedly, this idea of being a proxy for the entire race has been tied to excellence and achievement–both wonderful things. But, ultimately, this way of thinking is a tyranny and a perpetuation of race bias.

Whose standards are these?

I am the middle-class child of two degreed educators. I grew up in the suburbs in a mixed-race neighborhood. I attended Gifted and Talented classes on Saturdays and academic camps in the summer. My family was a member of Jack & Jill. My mother is a Link. Both parents were involved in black Greek organizations. We had all the markers of a middle, upper-middle-class African American family. I grew up in the Midwest, but my father is the son of Mississippi farmers (grew up during Jim Crow) and my mom is the daughter of a steelworker and housewife, who both immigrated to Indiana’s rust belt from the South. All of these influences made me who I am today, which is a Midwestern, suburban, secular, progressive, married woman. Of course, there are myriad other things that impact who I am and how I believe I should live my life. And so it is with all human beings–we are all the product of many influences, including race, but also class, gender, sexuality, region, age and on and on. So, who will be the judge of acceptable black behavior? Should we judge by the values of my rural, black friends? My urban ones? My gay friends? My straight ones? My Southern friends? My Northern ones? My conservative friends? My liberal ones?  My college-educated friends? My high-school educated ones? My religious friends (and is that Christian, Muslim, B’Hai?)? My secular ones? We are not a monolith. That society judges us as one is an example of race bias–a bias we perpetuate and acquiesce to every time we ask a black person to follow a nebulous set of values for the sake of the race. Continue reading

What’s worse: Real Housewives of Atlanta or race-based criticism of it?

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published What Tami Said

My blogsister Professor Tracey has me thinking about “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Yesterday, on Aunt Jemima’s Revenge, Tracey asked whether the hit Bravo show was “a guilty pleasure or embarrassing as hell for black folks, particularly women.” And so, as a regular watcher of the show, I pondered the lightning rods that the Hotlanta housewives have become.

Yeah, I watch RHOA. It’s shamelessly trashy, quite obviously scripted, drama-filled reality TV. But after a week of working and thinking and stressing and getting caught up in our country’s all-too-real political drama, sometimes I want to rest my brain by consuming something simple, indulgent and without value. “Real Housewives” is like a Hostess cupcake for my gray matter.

To be sure, the women on RHOA are no role models. They are alternately bullying, narcissistic, back-stabbing, money-grubbing, cliquey, disloyal, arrogant, self-involved, willfully ignorant, poorly spoken, wasteful and tackily nouveau riche. The show features street fights, wig tugging, name dropping, pole dancing, sugar daddy-funded goodies, “baller” fetishizing, vanity business projects, cattiness, loud arguments in nice restaurants (and nice offices..and nice homes), and whole lot of “flossing” and faux importance. Whether editing or reality is to blame, the women read like gross caricatures of the bourgie set, garnished with a little Jerry Springer.

But here’s the thing: These traits are not solely the hallmark of the black housewives of Atlanta. Reality shows are cast and scripted for drama, and the “Real Housewives” franchise serves up plenty of it with each and every season. So I find it curious that these five, black women are singled out as egregiously off-the-hook. Oh, I’m not saying that the white Real Housewives don’t catch hell. Half the thrill of watching all the RH series is snarking on the excess and ignorance afterwards. My problem is HOW the Atlanta wives are criticized. Continue reading