Reality TV And Its Damaging Effect On Black Women

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By Tamika Mallory

If you didn’t know a thing about Black folks, what would you think if you turned on your TV?

Whether it’s “Basketball Wives,” “Love & Hip-Hop,” “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” series, or “Single Ladies” (although not a reality show, it’s along the same lines), chances are, you would leave those shows with a negative view of Black women. In this world of fiction portrayed as reality, what is the message being sent to those in the community and the rest of the world? As a Black woman working diligently to empower and embolden other women, I can unequivocally say that I’m downright frustrated.

On a daily basis, we are bombarded with images of women of color dancing half-naked in music videos, or prancing around fighting each other on one of these TV shows. If reality TV is purported to depict real lives, what does that say about us and what others think of us? What sorts of examples are we setting for young, impressionable women out there?

These days, it’s very difficult for me to pinpoint a single reality program that showcases positive, accurate images of Black women and our role in society. As doctors, lawyers, educators, mothers, care takers, political activists and more, we are responsible for calling out networks that don’t correctly portray who we are as women and as a people. But, is the ugly truth that there are more women conducting themselves in the manner we see on reality shows than those doing actual, constructive things in real life?

The reality in all of this is that we must decide ourselves who we are and what we’d like to represent us on a national and global scale. For it isn’t just Americans that tune in to popular programming; there are countless others around the planet that may never come across a Black woman in his/her entire life and the image on TV is all they have to go by.

Even though there may be extensive money in reality TV, have we decided that it’s worth the cost of selling our souls and misleading our children?

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