by Sil Lai Abrams
A few weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece for theGrio.com on how viewers of reality television shows like Love & Hip Hop Atlanta were actively supporting VH1’s and executive producer Mona Scott-Young’s racist and misogynistic assault on the image of black women in America. Given that L&HHA was the most popular show on cable among black women aged 18-49 this summer, I knew there would be some who would defend this form of “entertainment”; after all black women comprise the majority of its 5.5 million viewers.
Commenters on various Internet news websites cited capitalism, personal apathy, and the shameless exhibitionism of show cast members as reasons why we should give VH1 and black female executive producers such as Scott-Young and Basketball Wives producer Shaunie O’Neal a break. These reasons for some seem to justify putting out television programming that attacks African-American women and decimates black love on a weekly basis. And, it’s a damn shame that any black woman in a position of power would feel comfortable exploiting her sisters in her quest for the almighty dollar. But in my opinion the two larger issues that need to be addressed are:
1. The fact that cable networks think it’s acceptable to perpetuate racist and misogynistic stereotypes of black women, and
2. That black women feel comfortable watching and defending these networks’ stereotypical programming.
While we can argue our personal views on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the show genre from here to eternity, what is difficult to refute is the emerging research showing the negative effect these modern day, real-life minstrel shows are having on the health of black women and black relationships. This is why we must address their continuing media dominance now.