An Open Letter to Tyler Perry

Bené Viera writes at her personal blog that she felt disgust while reading Perry's letter about his decision to cast Kim Kardashian in an upcoming film because he insults black women.

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Tyler Perry (Getty Images)

Vibe magazine contributor Bené Viera writes an open letter to Tyler Perry at her eponymous blog. She says that the letter he wrote to fans explaining his decision to cast Kim Kardashian in his upcoming film, Marriage Counselor, was condescending and insulting to black women.

... For the record, I could not care less that you cast Kim Kardashian in the Marriage Counselor. You certainly have the right to cast whomever you think can play the part. I also understand this to be a great business move. You and I know that Kim Kardashian’s role, no matter how big or small, will ultimately get her fans in the theater seats, which equals more money in your bank account. My gripe with you is specifically the way you addressed and depicted black women in your letter, which goes hand in hand with how we’re portrayed in your films.

See, you’re missing the point of why your fans disapprove of your choice. In your attempt to hold Kim K. on this rosy pedestal by attempting to convince us that she is a role model for young girls and women, you [shi--] on the very women who have made you the Tyler Perry. From what I’ve read, people are specifically concerned about Kim’s role because many believe she lacks talent, therefore is undeserving of the role. You say you want to reach young people, but what example are you setting by casting a woman only famous for fame’s sake? Had it not been for her sex tape with R&B star Ray J, Kim would still be working in a boutique in Cali instead of plastered all over the magazines and boob tube. If it was diversity you were looking for, were there not any A-list white actresses available for the role? 

I’m not sure why you chose to reduce black women, again, to the “angry black woman” trope that you’ve used repeatedly in your films. The “Don’t Make Me Take Off My Earrings and Boycott You’re A**” bit further contributes to the notion that all black woman are attitudinal, loud, angry and violent. Post-slavery black women have fought against being the negative stereotypes of the jezebel or Mammy. And we’ve made many strides. However, black women are still marginalized in the media where stereotypes contribute to the fallacy that all black women are monolithic. You, Mr. Perry, have reinforced these same problematic tropes time and time again. This letter is only one of the many examples.

Read Bené Viera's entire blog entry at Bené Viera.

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