Yesterday, BET aired the Season 3 finale of Mara Brock Akil’s hit series, Being Mary Jane. One thing’s for sure: rarely do women get the opportunity to be the center of attention.
Our stories rarely tend to matter, which is why Being Mary Jane has resonated with so many of us. In Season 1 of the show, we were introduced to a single, successful Black woman that couldn’t keep her personal life together. Overwhelmed with the pressure of being reduced to a side chick while struggling to keep her family’s finances in tact, “Mary Jane’s” portrayal was quickly shunned by many of its viewers. Like many other depictions of Black women on television, it seemed as if “Mary Jane” was nothing short of the lonely, hyper sexualized, educated, angry, independent woman that viewers were accustomed to.
Viewers, especially those that took to Black Twitter, were quick to express their blatant disregard for the show, not realizing that we’ve all been that girl. But unlike “Mary Jane,” we got to do so in the privacy of our own homes.
Mary Jane presented certain truths that we, as Black women, 1) weren’t able to handle, 2) didn’t know how to handle, or 3) completely ignored altogether. For those of us not running in the opposite direction of our truth, we chose to reflect., After all, some of us were taught a key lesson: when someone says something that stings, there’s a certain truth to it. Instead of attacking that truth, evaluate the sting.
As the show continued to develop, many of us were engulfed by the the complexity of Gabrielle Union’s character. We became consumed with her evolution and growth, we cheered for her in our living rooms, we understood her plight to be seen in a world that far too often imposes your identity upon you: Black first, then female. We knew the pain of staying in a situation long after it was over. We, like “Mary Jane,” understood that as we conquered the world as successful Black women, we had yet to master the ability to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships with our male and female counterparts.
For so many us, we were clapping for the fictional character’s successes and bold strides towards learning self-esteem, not realizing we were one in the same.
When we weren’t sifting through “Mary Jane’s” truths, or our own for that matter, we were cheering for her to be her Black, authentic self at work– a struggle that we all may be familiar with. “Mary Jane” reaffirmed what so many us already knew. When you’re a Black female, you’re an acquired taste in the professional world. You must quickly assimilate and learn the culture because after all, it’s cheaper to replace you than it is a person in management. Teeter -tottering between authentic and sellout, “Mary Jane” created opportunities for herself as she refused to be muted.
Feisty unapologetic tone, and self-righteous temperament aside, the Black woman is “Mary Jane’s” ventriloquist. She serves as representation of the struggles and triumphs that not only Black women, but the Black community as a whole experiences. She’s the result of what happens when women decide to stop holding their tongues, and for that she is to be celebrated.
Tiana Jorman is the creator of the lifestyle blog, GetTheT.com. Tiana combined her unparalleled talent of writing with history and received a B.A in cultural studies.