Divesting from the Reality Show Movement

Even before I ever saw one episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, I was done with the way black people were being portrayed in the media, specifically in reality television. From criminalizing victims of police brutality and murder (see: Michael Brown) to creating polarizing archetypes of black femininity (see: Nene Leakes), mainstream media portrays black men, women, and children in the most flawed light possible and we still watch in droves.

Why is this? As we protest police brutality with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and call attention to exclusionary practices with #OscarsSoWhite, why is it that we still buy into the monolithic portrayal of black identity on Reality TV?

I used to come to work and have lunch with my black girlfriends, eventually being shut out of the conversation when it turned to the latest episode of shows such as RHOA or Bad Girls Club. No one cared about the reality shows I watched: Big Brother, The Amazing Race and Project Runway. They looked at me as though I was bourgeois and I looked at them as though they were ratchet. Both viewpoints stem from the same problem: the portrayal of black people on reality television is neither complex nor compelling.

It speaks to the most basic part of us that we are entertained by it. We’re laughing at an amped up version of the girl who rolls her neck and eyes in class at the teacher because we don’t know that she’s missed breakfast every morning this week. We’re talking about how we wish Ray J would finally treat his girl right while ignoring the broken relationships we or our friends are in. How can we continue to internalize the broken parts of ourselves shown in media as the only parts of ourselves? We must demand full reflection.

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Read the full article at Blavity.com.


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