#BlackBlogsMatter Challenge – Day 19 – Ratchet Reality TV

Welcome to the #BlackBlogsMatter challenge! Throughout the 28 days of February, my posts will not (necessarily) be about HR, Leadership or Management topics.

Ratchet reality TV shows follow real people through orchestrated interactions where they behave rudely and aggressively toward each other. Most of the stars of ratchet reality TV shows are Black women.

Many argue that these shows perpetuate negative stereotypes that are damaging to how Black women are viewed worldwide. Others argue that it is just entertainment and those who don’t like it should turn the channel.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

I absolutely see how these shows contribute to the negative stereotypes of Black women. The women on these shows are often hyper-sexualized. They are materialistic and heavily appearance conscious. They are aggressive. They often appear angry and uneducated, even though many are successful professionals and entrepreneurs. Their representation of Black womanhood narrows us and sets us back more than propels us forward.

The women I know do not behave like these women. We have strong, supportive friendships. We have loving, healthy relationships, marriages and families. We work hard and we have fun with minimal drama. And we want to see that represented on TV. Unfortunately, the shows depicting Black women in this way never seem to last long. Networks aren’t satisfied if we don’t fit the ratchet mold. That sucks.

 On the other hand, I’ve been consuming reality TV shows since I was in middle school. It entertains me and makes for good conversation as well as light fodder. While I don’t see myself fully represented in the women on these shows, I absolutely can relate to some of the challenges and situations they face. That’s enough for me.

In the early days, there weren’t many if any Black people in reality TV casts. The stars of those shows did many of the same things we still see today on both mainstream and “ratchet” shows … Yet in the cases of the mainstream shows, this is written off as fun, age-appropriate and formulaic reality show behavior. The casts of those shows go on to be multi-million dollar moguls — or they fade into obscurity and lead normal lives.

No one accuses those people of setting back their race. No one presumes their whole race will act or behave just like them. No one perpetuates greater violence or discrimination against them. No one creates urban dictionary words likening them to yet another garden tool because of it.

This points to a bigger issue for me … and that issue is the unwillingness to allow Black people the same ranges of humanity as their White counterparts.

We are not all one thing or one way. Not one person among us represents or speaks for all of us. We have good, bad, positive and negative just like everyone else.

We get to go on television, create controversy, get paid for it and use that platform to make even more money or go off to have a normal life when it is over. Just. Like. Every. Body. Else.

Stop judging us for participating in the same activities as everyone else. Stop limiting us as individuals based on the behaviors of others. Stop assuming we cannot make mistakes, rebound, grow, evolves and improve like others. Stop forcing us to grow up faster, think with greater maturity sooner and carry ourselves with regal grace the moment we emerge from the womb — while still brainwashing us to think we are lesser and never giving us the credit or opportunity we deserve for our efforts and accomplishments.

 Reality TV isn’t real. Prejudice and systemic racism are very real.

Know the difference.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 20 – Reverse Racism Isn’t Real

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