All My Babies’ Mamas: How Low Can We Go?
5 months ago
Stereotypes, minstrelsy abound in Oxygen's upcoming parenting reality special
When a friend emailed Sabrina Lamb a clip of a proposed reality show called “All My Babies’ Mamas” she was horrified.
In development on the Oxygen Network, the show is billed as a one-hour special that follows the life of Atlanta-based rapper Shawty Lo (Carlos Walker) and the 11 children he fathered with 10 different woman. The show is currently scheduled to air in the spring.
“Tears came to my eyes,” said Lamb, author of Do I Look Like an ATM? A parent’s guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children. “I remember physically standing up and circling my chair because, as the pilot of this minstrel continued minute after minute, I saw nothing but the exploitation of children.”
The pilot so incensed Lamb that she created a petition on Change.org to stop the show from airing. The petition asks supporters “to tell Oxygen that their viewers will not tolerate a show that exploits and stereotypes Black children and families.”
“We will boycott any advertiser who chooses to support the show," the petition states.
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 34,500 people had signed the petition. But despite the buzz and criticism surrounding the show, people seem to be split on the potential for the show to worsen negative stereotypes of black men and women in the mainstream media.
Oxygen, in late December, responded to the criticism, noting that the show would “capture the highs and lows of this extreme ‘blended family’ that is anything but ordinary, while also showing the drama and the passion behind life’s most unexpected situations.”
Cori Abraham, senior vice president of development for Oxygen Media, said project “will be filled with outrageous and authentic over-the-top moments that our young, diverse female audience can tweet and gossip about."
A clip circulating the Internet show Shawty Lo with several of his childrens’ mothers and his current 19-year-old girlfriend. The women have given each other nicknames: “the first lady baby mama,” “the no-drama baby mama,” “the jealous baby mama,” and the “shady baby mama.” They call Walker the “Black Hugh Hefner.”
In an MTV interview posted online Tuesday, Walker responded to critics of the show, reasoning that his former life as a popular Atlanta drug dealer lead to so many out of wedlock children.
“When the money came, a lot of women came,” he said, adding that he didn’t mean to impregnate all of the women.
“It’s a lot of fathers that don’t take care of one,” Walker continued. “If I wasn’t taking care of my kids then y’all would really dog me out. But I’m taking care of my kids, providing for my family.”