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.