I’m going to write a book and I’m going to title it “Black Women Are Not Supposed To Sleep With White Presidents Or Have Affairs With Other Peoples Husbands, This Is Ratchet Behavior And We Shouldn’t Watch These Things Transpire Because It Only Leads Us Down A Dark And Dreary Path Towards Immorality, Depicting Black Women As Harlots Causes Black Women To Behave As Harlots And The Onus For Creating These Characters Lies Solely In The Hands Of The Media, They’ve Created These Women And Real Women Now Seek To Emulate What They See On Television, In The Movies And In Music Videos, How Dare The Industry Try To Destroy Black America And Other Bullsh*t Lies We Tell Ourselves To Avoid Addressing The Real Issues Facing The Black Community.”
It’s a little lengthy but I think it will work.
I’m tired of the Scandal’s Olivia Pope is single-handedly destroying the image of Black Women debate. I’m sick of the BET is destroying Black America debates. Yes, BET programming is dragging us to the bottom lowest level. But we aren’t the only ones giving in to basic instincts. Jerry Springer parked trailer homes smack dab in the center of our living rooms. FOX gave us the Bundy’s just as Norman Lear gave us the Bunkers.
There is nothing new under the Neilson.
Kerry Washington’s character is just that, a character on a television show. Do I cringe inside when I watch her longing for Fitz when she is working daily with the kissably becoming Harrison Wright? Ummm ahhh hell yeaaaaah; but I also enjoy the plotlines written by Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Am I personally affronted by this Black woman’s affair with the white President of the United States? No. It’s a crazy unbelievable plotline but it’s not a personal attack on my blackness or womanhood…or blackwomanhood. Is this a slap in the face to Sally Hemings? I just refuse to get that deep about a primetime soap opera. Alexis Carrington (Dynasty c.1981) was worse than Olivia Pope and she didn’t bother to solve people’s problems she created them while America cheered her on. Erica Kane (All My Children c. 1970-2011) was the biggest whore on daytime television; she discarded lovers and husbands like Kleenex for 41 years. Not a peep about her destroying the fabric of a nation. We accepted, without reservation, that Erica Kanes debauchery stems from her need to fill the void her father left when he abandoned her. So why, when it comes to the image of Black women, is there a tear in the fabric that black folk just can’t wait to grasp the threads of and pull until we’re standing naked with indignation in front of all God’s creation?
Is it that we are embarrassed? It’s the same internal cringing when we see a black person on the evening news being interviewed and they spout “hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband cause they’re rapin errybody out heh’…” or “ain’t nobody got time ferdat!”
Olivia’s crime is right there in the open. A beautiful, successful black woman makes it to prime time television and she’s rolling around in bed with, not one, but two white men? One of them is married? On national television? Not even cable? She’s willingly screwing around with a white man? In the broad daylight of primetime? How embarrassing! That black woman should be ashamed! She’s making us all look bad! How dare she!
Don Cheadle with a white ex-wife on House of Lies? How adorable.
Really? Is Olivia Pope a direct reflection of me? Of my life? Of yours? Stop it.
Media isn’t our first bout with inspection. I understand how being on display isn’t new to us. I live and breathe that we’ve spent over 300 years on auction blocks being publicly molested; we’ve been bought and sold for pennies on the dollar, used as work mules and concubines for generations. It does not escape me that we’ve been the ass of jokes from black-faced comedians to watermelon munching toys.
We’ve been cast as nanny, maid, mammy, mama and hooker since the dawn of celluloid. From Kizzy to Brown Sugar, Black women have always been betrayed by embarrassing portrayals. Victim , Whore, Gospel or Ghetto. Choose your compartment. Oh you can shake it up and be a Gospel whore or Ghetto victim; but our range is limited to what has been incorrectly defined as the black woman experience.
Because of these past embarrassments some have got it in their heads that Black portrayal must be some pristine reputation to pass society’s inspection of us.
It is damn near impossible to ever be satisfied with how we are portrayed. Florida Evans (Ester Rolle) was too preachy, Weezy Jefferson(Isabelle Sanford) was too sassy, Delilah Johnson (Louise Beavers) was long-suffering, Peola wasn’t even played by a black woman, Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashād) was too unrealistic, Claudine (Dianne Carroll) was too poor, Monique was too loud, Eartha Kitt’s cat woman was too exotic, Precious was too ghetto, Spike Lee’s black women make cameo appearances only, unless they are comparing and complaining of light vs. dark-skinned apparent affliction, all of Tyler Perry’s black women are victims or evil, bitter, rape and incest surviving nemesis that hate black men… like literally all of his black women characters. But in Tyler Perry movies a good black man and Jesus are the cure-all for black womanhood ailments; two seemingly mythical figures that a Black woman will have to wait for her afterlife to find.
Television didn’t build the black community up nor did it tear it down. Art imitates life more than life imitates art. Media can never define me. I’m stronger than that. And so should you be.
I’m more interested in talking about why flesh and blood Black women are broken off screen.
Some of us are lost and should seek to be found by our men; but they believe our men don’t want us. They believe our men don’t need us and fear our men are turning from us. Talk about it? How when we can’t hear each other because too many eras of dysfunction have ceased us from functioning properly as one unit.
There are many things the Black woman isn’t. The one thing she is, Black man, is yours.
Let’s talk about how we’ve turned on each other. How we strike at each other and how we are destroying each other. Let’s talk about how we repair this hurt.
How do we mend broken fences in the yards of discourse that are all too familiar with potholes of disdain?
That is the disconnection from each other which should be the subject for serious conversation and detailed dissection. That is how I’d like to spend my time. That is what I’d like to protest, that’s what I’d like to boycott, to banish inner turmoil, to prevent the dissolution of a community.
How do we come back to love? What great Black director can produce that?
No, I don’t get riled up by Scandal. I don’t boycott the show for the sake of black womanhood. I do support the efforts of Shonda Rhimes, a black – woman – writer successfully making her way in a male dominated arena. Ms. Rhimes created the only main protagonist role played by an African-American woman on American network television since 1974. Controversial or not, sister to sister that black woman has earned my support.
Television today is most certainly not a medium of excellence. I take it for what it is and for every mindless show I’ve watched, I’ve probably read 4 or 5 books to strengthen my mind. It is about balance.
I’m also doing my part to make The Truest Black Love become a Reality series.