More Than Just Reality TV Trashing Black Women

By , May 4, 2011 1:07 am

Apparently there’s “an unsettling new formula” in reality television: Trashing black women.

..put two or more headstrong African-American women in the same room, and let the fireworks begin. From Oxygen’s Bad Girls to Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, the small screen is awash with black females who roll their eyes, bob their heads, snap their fingers, talk trash, and otherwise reinforce the ugly stereotype of the “angry black woman.”

In her Newsweek piece “Reality TV Trashes Black Women,” Allison Samuels singles out the feud on this season’s Celebrity Apprentice between Real Housewives Of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes and Star Jones, the former co-host of The View. It’s an example of a “catfight” between two black women that’s “had viewers glued to their sets.”

But Samuels concedes that reality TV is “an equal-opportunity offender when it comes to stereotyping,” citing MTV’s hit Jersey Shore as an example. So, where’s the problem? Samuels quotes Celebrity Apprentice alum Holly Robinson Peete who may have the answer.

“Listen, there are plenty of white women acting a fool on television every night…But there’s a balance for them. They have shows on the major networks—not just cable and not just reality shows about them running companies, being great mothers, and having loving relationships. We don’t have enough of that.”

It’s the lack of a complete and diverse picture of black women – and I would add black men – on television that’s the problem. Showing people acting like fools on TV is fine. It can often be great television! But if a group of people is portrayed only one way across multiple channels without showing the diversity and depth of who they are, then TV as an industry, and not just one genre, is what’s really trashing them.

Read the entire article here.

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