Are Black Women Being Negatively Stereotyped On TV?

BY: - 26 Jan '12 | Entertainment

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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?

About the author

Briana Myricks

http://myownshero.com

Briana is a 20 something Social Media Specialist residing in Long Beach. She blogs about women becoming their own role models at My Own Shero.

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30 WordPress comments on “Are Black Women Being Negatively Stereotyped On TV?

  1. Magnetpi99

    Of course they are, whether scripted or reality TV. And it’s not just black women. Most images projected on TV are some form of stereotype because that is the very nature of mainstream media and it’s how the industry thrives because the people consume controversy more than readily than benign programs.

    Reply
    1. Majo

      agreed. EVERYONE is stereotyped for the most part. asians, latinos etc. Even white women are stereotyped on shows like ‘new girl’. (ever seen &*%^ girls say? that’s pretty much a white girl stereotype).

      Reply
  2. Jacquiemdc

    Think about this…there are places in the world where there are no Black people.   Satellite television, though, can be accessed any and everywhere.   For those places where there are no flesh and blood Black people who live real, complex, successful, family-focused, goal-driven, normal and decent lives, the Black people on television are the only references that exist to an entire culture.   These shows have always disturbed me and I’ve never watched them for this reason.   To continue to watch them  and support them is to continue to perpetuate our own stereotypes on a global  scale.    

    Reply
  3. Chrissy0131

    This article hit the nail on the head I love the part about the scripted shows that attempt to show black women in positive roles being weak and then the ratings drop and they get canceled, that rings so true. Lately I’ve been pondering this over in my head a lot, it’s so hard to tune into shows and not see anyone who looks like me and then the ones you do see get overlooked or portrayed as loud, ghetto or have a bad attitude. I want more than anything for there to be more positive black female leads in mainstream tv and movies. I look at myself and I have always been told that I have “white” tendencies but I know I am just educated and reserved, so I’d like to see more black women that act like me or the other educated black women I know. I hate that whenever there’s a black reality show the women are acting like petty high school age children, throwing drinks and pulling weaves. It’s like the media wants other races to sum us up in this manner, they don’t care to show a positive side of black women on tv. This makes me so mad!

    Reply
    1. Never watch that crap

      Kerry Washington in Scandal is doing a fabulous job that doesn’t degrade when in anyway but includes real life situations.

      Reply
    2. T

      Well Chrissy, you hit it on the head when you said you would like to see more black women like you that are reserved and educated. You already realize that you are the exception and not the rule unfortunately. I am in the same boat. I am not overweight, loud, angry, and uncivilized so every black woman I meet, gives me dirty looks because they are jealous that i am showing them up for fitting the stereotype. Here is a clue: DONT ACT LIKE THE STEREOTYPE AND THEN NO ONE WILL JUDGE YOU ON IT. Its that simple.

      Reply
  4. Yana

    Yeah, we are being negatively stereotyped, but we have no one to  blame but ourselves since the black women who portray the stereotypes on tv not only reinforce them, but season after season sign up to do it again and again! I was just thinking about this last week with RHOA. I personally think Bravo is making a mockery of these women by sending them to Africa. I think it was strategically planned out to send them to Africa and then have those episodes air during Black History month. If you look at your calendar there are 3 episodes left which will spill over into the month of February. Black women acting a fool (by choice)…. in Africa….during Black History month….wow! These women are essentially letting Bravo pimp them out for money….

    Reply
  5. Alright Neil

     â€œThe scripted shows that do attempt to portray us in a positive light, such as Lets Stay Together and Reed Between the Lines, often suffer from mediocre writing, weak laugh tracks, and forced situations.”

    Totally true.  TV   (in general) has become so edgy,  sometimes it’s downright corrupt and contrary to our core beliefs and values. No wonder we’re  unsatisfied, when we eventually  get the chance to see something wholesome. All this time, we’ve  been exposed to so much drama and dysfunction…..passed off as entertainment.      

    Reply
  6. PatriciaW

    You forgot The Braxtons.  Perhaps it’s not as violent as some of the others, but not a whole lot of positive images there either.  Really dysfunctional family.

    It’s sad.  I still look to TV for entertainment and education.  One might argue the point but I’m definitely being educated by these shows if this is how a segment of the population conducts itself.  The lessons are not positive.  As for entertainment value, sadly, television doesn’t offer much more than the few tepid sitcoms you referenced if Black people want to see themselves beyond a token role here and there.

    Reply
  7. WomenAreGamechangers

    It’s sad but these shows do portray the stereotypes. Yes they are entertaining but many people can’t distinguish between reality tv and reality. They often assume black women are just like these women on tv. That they represent how we really act.

    Reply
    1. Stuff

      Forget what the TV shows. Walk down any street in any city. Nine out of ten black women walking past WILL give you a dirty look, stand in your way, and just be generally rude through no provocation. This is REALITY folks. Until the black community wakes up and ADMITS that we as a GROUP have a problem, these stereotypes will CONTINUE TO BE TRUE.

      Reply
  8. Kevin Warmack

    I hate all of these shows with a passion.   Our real black women aren’t golddiggers, pass-around-packs, public boxers, etc.   The things that these “shows” do is show the greedy and seedy side of these women.   And as you mentioned the shows that have the positive light get shoved in the background because of weak writing and bad ratings.   It’s time for us black men to take a stand and say that we don’t like the way these shows are portraying our women.

    Reply
  9. The_fab_girls

    We are the internets new blog for African American tweens and teens, The Fab Girls. Female and Black=FAB! Visit us at http://www.thefabgirls.wordpress.com. We appreciate articles like this because are girls are watching, and need to know that the relationships they see played out on reality shows are just one aspect of things.  

    Reply
  10. N@TuRn3r

    Stop the sugar coating. These shows are shown on a network predominantly viewed by our own people. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the high ratings that keep these shows on air. By watching, we’re proving that we somehow identify with the characters on these shows. Black women dug this hole for themselves and each generation seems to get worse. Black men will need to stand up and take the reigns when it comes to raising our daughters because collectively, black women are failing. Too busy trying to get attention. Then they wonder why they can’t find a man. To my good black queens, I’m so sorry that you’ve been stained because of perpetuated stereotypes. You are the goddesses that EVERY man is seeking — the example by which ALL woman should follow. Please keep your heads up.

    Reply
    1. A BLACK WOMAN

      Agreed 100%. All of the most violent cities in America are predominantly black. We rank the lowest in everything and we can only blame ourselves. No one is forcing us to fail in school, model our lives after hip hop artists, and generally be despised. This is pure fact folks.

      Reply
  11. Tiya

    Yes, yes and yes! It’s a sad state if affairs. I also was guilty of watching a few if these shows. I just made the decision this year to stop. After Black Girls Rock aired I was so inspired I made the decision to no longer support shows that don’t honor us. And when quality shows air, we have to fully support them and give them a chance, they usually get better, but we have to hang in there with them and even give feedback in how they can make them better. We need those shows.
    Great topic!

    Reply
  12. lee66132000

    Didn’t you see the latest episode of “THE GOOD WIFE” in which two African-American females were portrayed as the episode’s main villains?  It made me uneasy.  And the fans’ gloating over their downfall really disgusted me.

    Reply
  13. injoylyfe

    Let’s be honest there are a lot of negative, loud, disrespectful, ignorant black women that those shows protray. Don’t forget those blak women on bbw, bgc hw are keeping it REAL as black people say. The best show today that show black women in a positive light is Mary Mary. The Braxtons I found to be fake and extremely dysfunctional.

    Reply
  14. Theresse Bynum

    No, I do not believe Black women are being stereotyped negatively. The cameras pic up the behaviors of those particular women; which happens to be very negative. Some may say the cameras or producers cut and paste to add drama, but they cannot add what was not already there. I have been watching the “Ex’-wive etc.” show, and they seem to handle themselves quite well. No one can portray you to be (on camera) something you do not exhibit yourself.

    Reply
  15. Vana

    Yes and i do not watch any of this crap on TV. Black women have real issues other thatn what these chicks argue about.

    Reply
  16. Deborah

    I don’t watch the shows because it make you believe this attitude is real and main stream. Busy making my own show in real life. TV in limited dose..

    Reply
  17. Michelle

    I agree with all of you because the black woman I see everyday don’t have time for the childish crap they have real problems real issues. Not every woman rich and comfortable like this women. Real housewives actually worry about getting food on the table and keeping clothes on there family back and if that next dollar is going to stretch. Real housewives can’t worry about that lasted fashion or who’s doing who’s. It’s all trash and it needs to be taken off of tv.

    Reply
  18. Michelle

    Every should Magic Johnson new network Aspire. It only shows positive successful black people. If you don’t have you need to get it.

    Reply
  19. Adrienne

    Black women don’t see the power and influence we have in this world. If you notice it seems that every other woman of different races want to BE us. What with the tanning beds, panties to increase your butt size, and white fuels with hair weaves. If we could just show the positive side of ourselves and support those projects, then the world’s view of us would change. Embrace our power and the world will follow.

    Reply
    1. Janet

      Adrienne, if that is not the biggest bs I have read.. White women nor any other race do not want to be black women. Get real. Get it through your ignorant skull that round booties, full lips, etc are not exclusive to black women either. Russian women, latina, etc have curves and voluptuous frames but they also have the nice hair that you don’t have. Yes, I went there because you started that nonsense. You are living in a dream world sis.

      Reply
      1. AJ

        Every race has that certain trait with black women the round booties is exclusive. Latinas, Russian women, and other races of women may have the round booties but it’s just not the same. Only black women booties are round like a basketball. They have a small waist, leaner hips and a butt that you can sit a cup on. A brick house in every sense of the word. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of women of other races with nice shapes but the built is different than the typical black woman (i.e. latinas butts are round but they don’t sit up the same and usually have wider hip). And sorry to bust your bubble but coarse kinky hair that doesn’t need washing and a ton of styling products every day is what i consider nice hair. Every race an edge in what is considered beautiful. Sorry you feel black women don’t have it going on. Any women can be considered beautiful regardless of race. Sorry I went there but you force me.

        Reply
  20. amina

    In addition the there are no shows in which Black women are the desirable ones. We have Ice Loves Coco, Kendra , Ochocinco and his demand for non-Black women and videps/media in which non Black women are the goal/trophy.

    Reply
  21. Roberta

    Anyone seen that nonesense “Mama Drama” ?? Talk about portraying black women in a negative light. We as black women have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, our grand children and yes our race to behave in a more mature and respectable manner. I don’t see myself portrayed in ANY of these reality shows.

    Reply
  22. GB

    Does anyone see themselves on TV? Do white people? Maybe really vapid people see themselves everywhere on TV? I can’t imagine anyone else would. Isn’t it all just shallow caricature to fill the dead air between commercials which are the real point of it all- selling us more crap?

    What we need to do is to stop expecting corporate media to fix us somehow. In case it escaped anybody’s attention during the Bush years, corporate types aren’t big on helping people who aren’t them.

    African Americans consume more TV than any other ethnic group. Watching twice as much TV as Asian Americans has done us zero amounts of good. If we stop letting ourselves get programmed with whatever hateful images they want to force feed us, and start spending those hours living productive lives instead, how far would just doing that take us?

    I don’t need or want to see myself in corporate media. I don’t need or want white approval in order to be the fine black woman I am. People hoping for corporations to assign them palatable identities are letting themselves become the new slaves serving the same old masters.

    Reply

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