Thursday, July 23, 2009

With shows like the Real Housewives of ATL, Black In America 2 is the least of our problems!

After watching Black In America 2, I found most of the stories anecdotal, and Inspirational. I realize our issues are too complex to evaluate or discuss in four hour reporting segment, but its not programs like BIA2 that get my blood pressure up, its the foolishness that counts for reality television such as, Tiny and Toya, Crackheads are Us, the BET Awards and now another season of the The Real Housewives of Atlanta, you might think it’s easy to get wealthy African-Americans to talk about money. Now Bravo will burden us with the second season this fall of the reality program chronicling the conspicuous consumption of five well-off women who have ordained themselves among Atlanta’s elite. Four of the Housewives are African-American. You have to remember that these nouveau riche women on the show did not earn any of the money on their own so what do you expect. They married NFL and NBA players. Most of the players didn't have a good upbringing so why would you expect them to married somebody respectful anyway!

This show should hit a raw nerve amongst the black women's the way it continues to it perpetuates negative stereotypes with its focus on cat fighting women who shamelessly lord their wealth and generally misbehave. A particular sore point is the consistently egregious grammar the Housewives stars use.

Now I know many of us have issues with the Links, Jack & Jills, and other so called elitist groups, that wouldn't allow my black ass in anyway, but these organizations actually have real Atlanta Housewives, that perform charitable and philanthropic work, and would never debase themselves in this manner. In article from the Houston Chronicle last year, Houstonian Phyllis Williams, well-known for her philanthropic work, recalled flipping channels on her television on Election Night — from the historic speech of President-Elect Barack Obama to a Real Housewives episode in which two wealthy women learn to let loose on a stripper pole.

“I was appalled,” she said. “This is not what elite women are about.”

The women on the show, she said, are shallow, graceless and mean.

“They eat and breathe money and clothing,” Williams said. In one episode, queen of mean Sheree Whitfield drops $6,000 on a private shoe-shopping spree in her living room; in another, Kim Zolciak, the show’s only white cast member, calls her sugar daddy “Big Poppa” to request $68,000 cash so she can buy a Cadillac Escalade on the spot.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the furor surrounding the show, few Atlanta women were willing to talk about it with the local media. When a reporter struck out to get a peek into what life is really like for the city’s black elite, she was met with polite no-thank-yous and snarky voicemails but mostly unreturned phone calls.

Merele Yarborough, another prominent woman in charitable fund-raising circles who has been featured on the Chronicle’s annual Best Dressed list, politely declined to throw open her closet doors for public inspection. She found what she saw on Housewives troubling and hopes it reflects the slant of the producers. “I was disappointed by the way these characters were portrayed,” she said. “I’m praying they are not like that. They are like children in a candy store. They’ve been given all this money. It’s almost like the blind leading the blind.” Money is a touchy subject for most people, but for some affluent African-Americans there’s an added layer of self-consciousness about how the black community is portrayed. They worry that too much bling reinforces the public’s worst perceptions.

“I’m just hoping that most people don’t look at this show and think that every wealthy black woman is like this,” said Williams. Like their old-money counterparts in the Anglo community, the black elite are quiet about their wealth and would rather die than parade themselves showing off “ridiculous homes that resemble Potemkin villages,” said Lawrence Otis Graham, author of Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class. He labeled The Real Housewives as the “P. Diddy crowd,” who are “here-today-and-gone-tomorrow money.”
The black upper class, he said, doesn’t want the likes of them living in their neighborhoods, going to school with their kids and certainly not marrying into their ranks.

“These are not people who value education and true philanthropy,” said Graham, who lives with his wife and children in an apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan and on an estate in Chappaqua, near the home of former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. “We don’t know people like them.” Like the women on the show, Williams admits to a love for fine clothes, exclusive vacations and fabulous handbags. She even plans to launch her own line of women’s golf clothing next year. But there’s more to life than shopping and parties, she said.
Williams said she prefers to be known for her work sitting on the boards of such child-focused nonprofits as Chuck Norris’ Kickstart Foundation. “I don’t like talking about money,” she said. “We just feel blessed, At the end of the day, we’re just regular people.”

This is the image of Black Women being beam out to the world, and we wonder why the intial suspicious of our first lady. The purpose of these shows and to continue to degrade and demonize us to the rest of the world. Where is the choir of protest!


Citizen Ojo said...

Good Analysis. This is one of the reasons whey Black Women are catching hell out here. Women such as these Atlanta Housewives make it hard for the hard working decent black women. And the funny thing about all of this in the end. Black Women watch this show in large numbers. The Art of Self Destruction.

lincolnperry said...

@Citizen Ojo
Yet they went to criticize our participation in there destruction, how can you challenge misogyny, when Karin Steffans writes about whoreish behavior, and young black women line up in droves to star as video vixens, and a black women executive allows children to be parade on stage in the most obscene manner!
This is where black women need to step up!

MoMo said...

I like this post, I think its a shame too that we have school age girls that watch that crap at home and want to be like them just because its on tv and seems great.

lincolnperry said...

Thats correct, I have been watching alot of black sitcoms in snydication from the 90s, like Smart Guy, Sister Sister, and these shows really had postive messages and themes.

Eight years of Republican Regime, and postive television suffers as well, ie; Frankie & Neffi show!

haireality said...

As a blogger who writes about all four of the "Real Housewives" franchises, I find that all the nouveau riche women willing to participate in these shows are cut from the same cloth. None of the women are representative of their communities, rather, they are anomalies. We survived "Being Booby Brown" we can survive this too!

lincolnperry said...

The problem is the perception of Black Women is usual based on the worse stereotypes, its not what ignorant Americans think of us, its what happens when these images are beam out to countries like Norway, Bali or any where else in the world!
Back in the 50s congressman Adam Clayton Powell suggested that the state department sent Jazz artist such as Dizzy Gillispe as good will ambassadors!
Which the exception of popsuperstar Michael Jackson, we need to improve our image!

KIM said...

Good post. I had come to think that people did not take them serious. Sure women act this way but in my mind the wealthy ATL families don't act this way. These people never had anything and got a little bit and lost their minds! To me just sheer entertainment but I see how it isn't good for us because there are dumb people out there who will swear this is us with money!

Her Side said...

I found my way here from Denmark Vesey's spot. How are you? :-)

Here's my annoyance with these "all Black people aren't like that" debates...

We keep putting ourselves in the position of speaking for each other. While Whites don't feel the urge to defend the race every time some white loon acts like a moron, we feel the need to defend blackness whenever other Black folk behave badly.

NeNe et. al. don't make rich Black women look bad. They make themselves look bad.

Likewise, I am annoyed by the woman in the article who was arrogant enough to speak for all "elites." What do you mean "that's not what we're about." Speak for yourself, and you'll be recognized as an individual. Keep speaking for the group, and you'll be lumped-in with them.