Disclaimer: I watch reality television – a guilty pleasure that is becoming more and more painful to engage in. This past week, the Housewives of Atlanta focused the episode solely on its only White cast member, Kim Zolciak and her new husband Atlanta Falcon’s Kroy Biermann; followed up by their own show “Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding”. Interesting. Now one could chuck it up to the other members completing their semi-debacle of a trip to South Africa. Or maybe the birth of their son Kroy, Jr. (KJ) and their new blended family was something producers thought would be exciting to its public. Basically, as Atlanta (ATL or the “A”) has long been touted the a mecca for successful African American professionals and upstarts (much like Washington, DC was in the 80’s), the focus on Kim and her family with “Sweetie” (A Black woman who serves as her modern day maid, ahhh I mean “personal assistant”) kind of…well…bothered me; just a little. Indulge me.
Let’s say the other Housewives’ franchises (such as Orange County and Beverly Hills) had an African American cast member. I would bet money on the fact that you would NEVER see one entire episode dedicated to her and her family. Period. I’ll do you one better, the current season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice boast not one Black female cast member. After the rantings of NeNe Leakes (Housewives of…the ATL) toward Latoya Jackson, and Star Jones, I guess America had enough of the drama – even if the stereotypical angry black woman was in full effect. Thanks Omarosa (Rev. that is). Add the so-called Basketball Wives franchise, mixed with Love and Hip Hop and I have officially thrown up my hands! Sure, I hear you; What about Mob Wives or Housewives of New Jersey (i.e. White women behaving badly)? What about them? White women have often been given a pass in the media regardless of fighting, arguing, backstabbing, or other ridiculousness…and still come up smelling like roses. You rarely hear White based entertainment and/or news entertainment programming discussing these cast members in a manner that is disrespectful and embarrassing to their community. Nope. Their behavior is just that; behavior – and at the end of the day it pays off.
I dislike the way women are portrayed negatively, no matter what color. However, when African American women being exploited for what is purported as entertainment purposes, a connotation of sex-crazed low self esteemed girls that are brainless and under-educated has been created over centuries; and with media outlets that span to the Internet, it continues to erase the beauty, radiance and intelligence of African American women who truly represent: from the First Lady, Michelle Obama to the woman who works in the school cafeteria. From the legacy of female slaves who were degraded in ways that we could never imagine to Madame C J Walker the first female billionaire; precursor to Oprah.
With that my following of reality television that seeks to portray African American in a less that desirable light, is over. No naiveté; bad entertainment makes money. Yet the amount of money and fame these women believe they are getting is pennies compared to the networks and companies that laugh heartily and live in neighborhoods they will never be invited to. Their kids will taught in more ways than one that African American women are no more than the sexual chattel some of their ancestors used them for…and sadly as a result, our beautiful little ladies Sasha and Malia will always be looked upon as suspect…wow.