There Is Racism On Reality TV But Not On The Bachelor
1 year ago
A look at the real racism perpetuated on television
I didn’t have to look very far for validation of my theory when the very week “The Bachelor” critics filed their lawsuit, a cast member of a show called “Basketball Wives” filed a lawsuit against another cast member, who has since been charged with misdemeanor assault. For those who missed it, the women (and make no mistake these are full-fledged adults over the age of 30, not kids who don’t know any better) got into a verbal altercation that resulted in one hitting another, while another woman removed her shoes and climbed over a table to continue said altercation. Did I already mention the part about these being adults? As embarrassing as this altercation is, or at least should be, for all parties involved, it’s not nearly as embarrassing as the fact that it’s not the first physical altercation that’s happened on the show. But even more embarrassing? That this formula — angry women of color getting into fistfights, catfights and weave-pulling smackdowns — seems to have become the go-to reality TV recipe for success; with “Basketball Wives” joined by shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “Bad Girls Club,” and others to perpetuate a stereotype so enduring and pervasive that First lady Michelle Obama expressed her own fears about it just months ago: the image of the angry black woman.
These shows send the same message. No matter how much you dress us up, or how much money we may have, lying underneath it all for every woman of color is a neck rolling, finger pointing, profanity using stereotype ready to solve any dispute with physical violence because that’s how we “keep it real.”
Only that’s not how most of us “keep it real.” But you wouldn’t know that by watching reality TV. In the early days of the genre, even those shows that did not encourage physical violence, per se, seemed to encourage the perception that one of the black cast members would resort to it if they felt the need to (think Omarosa on season one of “The Apprentice” and Kevin on season one of “The Real World”.) Now here we are years later and though the diversity of reality TV shows has expanded, the depiction of people of color on them hasn’t really.
So is the answer a lawsuit to make shows like “The Bachelor” more inclusive? I would say the answer is a lot simpler than that.
The only thing more embarrassing than the behavior of the women of color on some of these shows is the fact that there are women of color who help keep them on the air. If you are one of these women who watch these shows dismissing them as “harmless,” then you can’t be outraged the next time some conservative shock jock tries to stereotype Michelle Obama as an angry black woman. You’re helping to perpetuate that stereotype. As the saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. After all, when Don Imus, called black women “nappy-headed hoes” and Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” we were outraged. Yet you will hear women — of all colors -- called much worse than that in ten minutes of a “Real Housewives” or “Basketball Wives” reunion show. Where’s the outrage then?