Ebony‘s Mychal Denzel Smith says Basketball Wives and other outrageous television shows are pretty low on the list of things that cause him concern about the African-American community.
There have been calls for boycotts, for the show to be pulled, open letters written prophesying the demise of Black womanhood; some have referred to the show as ’embarrassing.’
This is where I have a problem.
I’ve watched Tyler Perry dress in drag and mangle the English language as a supposed “ode” to the Black women he loves. I read the news when Flavor Flav opened up a fried chicken restaurant. Via YouTube, I witnessed a young brother lick the bottom of a newly purchased Air Jordan in front of his local TV news cameras. I watched the BET Awards back when everyone hated them. Through all of that, and more, one thing I refuse to be is embarrassed over my people.
A lot of the embarrassment seems to be rooted in the false belief in a politics of respectability, in which we’re afraid of the white gaze and how we’ll be viewed by society-at-large. We’ve convinced ourselves that presenting an image of respectable Negroes will eliminate stereotypes and discrimination. I regret to inform everyone that it doesn’t work that way. Racism is a system invested in perpetuating itself. It doesn’t disappear when confronted by truth, it simply concocts a new lie. No matter how many Cosbys we get on primetime television, so long as someone benefits from racism, we can’t respectable our way out of oppression.
Read Mychal Denzel Smith’s entire piece at Ebony.com.
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