Fight Night: Black Women on Reality TV

What are our young girls learning from the brawling, angry black women they see on reality TV?

Getty Images
Getty Images

It’s happened again. A video of teens fighting has gone viral. This time, police officials say the two girls met online and arranged to fight. The video, which one girl posted on Facebook, shows their meeting blow by blow, including one girl banging the other’s head against the ground. What may be more disturbing are the congratulatory posts by classmates and other “friends” on the Facebook page of one of the girls

As I watched this video, I was instantly reminded of recent episodes of Bravo’s The Real Housewives series and VH1’s Basketball Wives. These shows routinely show women angrily using profanity and physical violence as a means of conflict resolution. 

And because I am a black woman, I am extremely bothered when this type of behavior is displayed by black women, especially those who are well into their 30s or older. Despite the fact that one of us is now living in the White House and another just launched her own network, many around the world still see us as angry, short-tempered, immature and unsophisticated. Did you see that Pepsi Super Bowl ad?

While the world is watching and labeling us, far too many of our younger sisters are taking in the same images and defining themselves. 

Journalist and author Sophia Nelson says the situation may be worse than we think. In her upcoming book, Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama, Nelson reveals the results of a study she conducted on black women and conflict resolution. What she found was that an alarming number of women ages 18-25 — either in college or recent graduates — use anger and violence to resolve their issues with each other.