All My Babies’ Mamas: How Low Can We Go?
5 months ago
Stereotypes, minstrelsy abound in Oxygen's upcoming parenting reality special
While most children in the U.S. are born out-of-wedlock, 73 percent of black babies are born to single women, according to government data analyzed by Child Trends, a Washington, D.C. research group. Fifty-three percent of Hispanic babies and 29 percent of white babies are born to unwedded mothers.
Although Oxygen is known for the rarely-edifying shows Bad Girls Club and Snapped, Lamb believes the network has crossed the line with All My Babies’ Mamas, which she says trivializes black motherhood.
“The people who decided this were so disconnected from the African American community that it was okay for them to sell out our children, to sell our souls,” Lamb said. “It was okay for them to do that because they didn’t have any compassion, no connection. We weren’t in the room. And my question is, in 2013, why? And, as a community, why aren’t we holding these networks accountable?”
In a statement sent to Loop 21, Oxygen said it is not trying to peddle stereotypical images of African Americans.
“(All My Babies’ Mamas) is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society.,” the statement reads. “It is a look at one unique family and their complicated, intertwined life. Oxygen Media’s diverse team of creative executives will continue developing the show with this point of view.”
Oxygen’s statements to the press have not quelled public outrage. The Parents Television Council, a non-partisan organization advocating responsible entertainment, has called on the Oxygen Network to cease further development of the show.
“Every time we think that the television industry couldn’t stoop any lower, sadly one of the networks steps forward to prove us wrong,” said PTC president Tim Winter. “This new project … is grotesquely irresponsible and exploitive…”
Joining Lamb’s call to boycott show sponsors, Winter’s group pledged to hold “hold them accountable as well.”
There isn’t complete agreement on this in the parenting advocacy community. Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated, an organization that focuses on responsible fatherhood, believes the uproar behind All My Babies’ Mamas is only temporary and will blow over in a few weeks.
“There’s never any sustained thought on how media is presenting us and we don’t engage in the activities that would change and transform [reasons] why they would air these shows in the first place,” he said.
Braswell points to shows such as “Basketball Wives,” “Love & Hip Hop” and, most recently, “The Sisterhood,” which enjoy high viewership in African American households.
“Every time one of these shows hits the airwaves, there’s a flurry of conversation around how it diminishes the images of African American people. Yet, when the show is aired, everybody is tuned in,” Braswell added. “If we don’t want it, then we shouldn’t consume it. As long as we consume it, they’re going to continue to produce it.”