Basketball Wives, Real Housewives of Atlanta, Love & Hip Hop, Bad Girls Club. Do these “reality” shows ring a bell? I admit, I’m guilty for watching the drama unfold, caught up in the character profiles, coming to my conclusion of who these ladies are based on their portrayal on television. However, I’m not like these women. I don’t go out to fancy restaurants and public places just to throw glasses and throw bows with the next one, regardless of our issues.
I’m certainly not bragging about how rich I am (I’m not), sleeping with men on the first night (I never have), or assuming I’m better than my frenemy (I don’t have any of those). Although I tune in to some of these shows on a regular basis, it suddenly hits me: although I know my friends and myself don’t act like these “women,” other people may be getting the idea that this is how black women act. That’s something that disturbs me.
Black women are already assumed to be loud, angry, ignorant, petty, have bad attitudes, thrive on drama, violent, promiscuous, gold diggers””the list can go on and on. We have video vixens and mothers of athletes’ children dominating the television over highly educated, hard working women. Stereotypes are one thing when shown in scripted television shows, but it takes it to new levels when it’s reality TV, because to a certain extent, this is how black women are acting in real life. We’ve replaced mothers like Claire Huxtable for mothers like Mama Jones. We’ve got “wives” shows that really showcase ex-fiancees and former girlfriends. How are people viewing us?
The scripted shows that do attempt to portray us in a positive light, such as Let’s Stay Together and Reed Between the Lines, often suffer from mediocre writing, weak laugh tracks, and forced situations. So even when we try to support these shows, we’re left wanting more. We stop tuning in, ratings drop, and the shows end up canceled. Not to mention, these shows are shown on BET, while the other shows are shown on VH1, Oxygen, and Bravo, more likely to be seen by other races. Which do you think has the more lasting impact?
Jezebel did an article based on a poll done by Washington Post, asking various questions including “Overall, do you think the images of black women in the media perpetuate stereotypes?” in which 90% of the black women responded “yes.”
We want to know what you think: are black women being negatively stereotyped on TV?
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