Black Women in Media: Gold Diggers, Jezebels and Baby Mamas?

Survey respondents say categories like "Modern Matriarchs" and "Community Heroines" more accurately describe black women. The media should reflect this. 

Generic image (Thinkstock)
Generic image (Thinkstock)

In the media, “negative imagery of Black women is seen often twice as frequently as positive imagery,” according to a survey of more than 1,200 respondents appearing in the November issue of Essence magazine.

They “told us that the images we encounter regularly on TV, in social media, in music videos and from other outlets are overwhelmingly negative and fall into categories that make us cringe — Gold Diggers, Modern Jezebels, Baby Mamas, Uneducated Sisters, Ratchet Women, Angry Black Women, Mean Black Girls, Unhealthy Black Women, and Black Barbies,” Dawnie Walton wrote last week in advance of the issue’s appearance on newsstands Friday.

“The study also revealed six types we feel we don’t see enough in media, types we feel more genuinely reflect us and the Black women we know: Young Phenoms, Real Beauties, Individualists, Community Heroines, Girls Next Door and Modern Matriarchs. . . .”

Walton reported “surprising, bonus details and insights from our research”:

“85% of our Black women respondents reported they regularly see representations of Baby Mamas in media, while only 41% said they often see Real Beauties. The type seen least often? Community Heroines.”

“Modern Jezebels and Gold Diggers are the types that cause Black women the most embarrassment. . . .”

“Our Black respondents said the typologies that best represent the Black women they know in real life are the positive ones — including Real Beauties, Modern Matriarchs, Girls Next Door and Individualists.

“But non-Hispanic White women cited negative typologies as most representative of Black women they’ve encountered in real life — namely, Baby Mamas, Angry Black Women, Unhealthy Black Women and Uneducated Sisters.

“Younger women — ages 18-29 — were more likely than older women to be aware of negative typologies and also more likely to find them compelling. . . .”

“African-American women reported higher levels of happiness with their natural beauty and appearance, plus their spiritual lives and religious commitments. Meanwhile, White women reported higher satisfaction with their homes, their relationships with significant others, and their savings and investments.”

“Both Black and White women reported that the strongest influence for boosting their sense of worth is themselves. But while Black women cited their mothers as the second strongest influence, White women say they look to their significant others to lift them up.

“Interestingly, women who were compelled by negative typologies also reported they find physical features including lighter skin and straight hair to be most beautiful.”

Writing about the study for the Washington Post, Krissah Thompson reported Thursday, “The magazine’s study differs from other assessments of the portrayal of black women in the media in an important way: It proposes a solution.

“The problem with the current images is that they reflect extremity, according to the magazine and the researchers. The solution is to uplift images in the ‘invisible middle.’ Those include figures such as, ‘the acculturated girl next door,’ ‘community heroines,’ ‘young phenoms’ and ‘modern matriarchs.’

“Marketing expert Pepper Miller, who was interviewed by researchers for the report, wrote in her book ‘Black Still Matters [in Marketing]’ that ‘there are the high profile celebrities, entertainers, and sports figures on one side, and the impoverished, crime-ridden, and down and out on the other. This flawed perception results in the rest of us — The Invisible Middle — being ignored and marginalized.’ “

Asha French, Ebony: Dear Beautiful Daughters Who Happen to Be Light

Judge Orders Heart & Soul Owners to Pay Writers

A Maryland judge has ordered the owners of Heart & Soul magazine to pay aggrieved writers $90,263 after many of them remained unpaid despite an April settlement under which a dozen freelance writers and editors would finally be compensated.

Since the Sept. 30 order from Judge Krystal Q. Alves of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland for Prince George’s County, four of the 12 women received checks, Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union, messaged Journal-isms on Friday. “They all appear to be for the agreed upon amount for May,” he said of the checks.

Heart & Soul has had a rough go since journalist George Curry and his partners in Brown Curry Detry Taylor & Associates, LLC of Silver Spring, Md., announced in January 2012 that they had bought the 18-year-old health and wellness publication from Edwin V. Avent, a Baltimore-based businessman who now heads the recently launched cable network Soul of the South.

The new Heart & Soul owners promised to compensate a group of angry writers who said they were owed more than $200,000 in back pay. But after failure to satisfy the writers and other setbacks, Curry said in November that he had resigned as executive vice president/content and editorial director.

The status of the publication could not be determined on Monday. The website features a story dated Sept. 25.

Reginald Stuart, Rochester, N.Y., Paper Win for Diversity

Reginald Stuart, veteran journalist and corporate recruiter, and the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle are the recipients of the 12th annual Robert G. McGruder Awards for Diversity Leadership, awarded by the Associated Press Media Editors in partnership with other journalism organizations,” APME announced on Friday.

“The McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership is given annually to individuals, newsrooms or teams of journalists who embody the spirit of McGruder, a former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, managing editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and a graduate of Kent State University. McGruder died of cancer in April 2002. A past president of APME and former member of the American Society of News Editors’ Board of Directors, McGruder was a relentless diversity champion. The awards will be presented Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, at the annual awards lunch at the APME conference in Indianapolis.

“This year, the 12th annual awards were sponsored by The Plain Dealer, Kent State University and the APME Foundation, and the Chips Quinn Scholars program of the Newseum Institute. The honorees will each receive $2,500 and a leadership plaque.

The announcement continued, “In the nominating letter for Stuart, a veteran journalist who has spent 45 years chronicling news stories and recruiting and placing journalists in various assignments — including the last 20 as a recruiter for Knight Ridder and then The McClatchy Co. — Stuart’s nomination celebrated him for placing more than 1,000 journalists into jobs.”

It also said, “In her nominating letter, Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, saluted the Democrat and Chronicle for ‘its dedication to diversity in news content and leadership in providing tools, information and resources to promote intergroup understanding and equity in our upstate New York community.’

“She said that through its Unite Rochester initiative, the Democrat and Chronicle bolstered community conversations through a continuing series of news stories, deployed extensive online expertise and social media reach to stimulate community discussions, developed and publicized results of a countywide poll about racial attitudes, issues and solutions and took its leadership team on the road for town hall meetings to spur conversation about the issues and beliefs that divide Rochester. . . .”

ESPN Backs Columnist Reilly Over Redskins Quotations

ESPN is standing by columnist Rick Reilly, who defended the Washington Redskins team name only to have his father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian elder, say that Reilly misquoted him as supporting the name.

The Native American Journalists Association on Friday called on ESPN “to review Reilly’s past work to ensure there have been no other instances in which sources may have been misquoted or their views misrepresented.” It also said, “Arguing that a racial slur is actually not offensive when members of the offended group say otherwise not only seems harmful, but almost deliberately cruel. . . .”

ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys told Journal-isms by email on Monday, “We reviewed the column and stand by Rick’s reporting.”

Reilly wrote on Sept. 18, “I know an atheist who is offended by religious names like the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. There are people [who] who don’t think Ole Miss should be the Rebels. People who lost family to Hurricanes. There are people who think Wizards promotes paganism. Shall we listen to all of them?”

He quoted his father-in-law, Bob Burns, as saying, “The whole issue is so silly to me. The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”

But that’s not what I said,” Burns countered Oct. 10 in his own piece for the Indian Country Today Media Network.

“What I actually said is that ‘it’s silly in this day and age that this should even be a battle — if the name offends someone, change it.’ He failed to include my comments that the term ‘redskins’ demeans Indians, and historically is insulting and offensive, and that I firmly believe the Washington Redskins should change their name.

“When Rick’s article came out, it upset me to be portrayed as an ‘Uncle Tom’ in support of this racial slur. I asked him to correct the record. He has not, so I must do it myself. . . .”

Reilly sent out a tweet later that day, “While I stand by the reporting in my Sept. 18 column about the Washington Redskins nickname controversy, and felt I accurately quoted my father-in-law in the piece, clearly he feels differently. This is an incredibly sensitive issue, and Bob felt he had more to say on the subject after that column was posted on We’ve spoken and cleared this up. I admire Bob and respect his opinions, and he’s welcome to express them. Bob and I are good and I’m looking forward to my next steak with him.”

Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network: Reporter Defends ‘Redskins’; Doesn’t Mention Dad Is Team’s Crisis Manager

Dallas Morning News: Jerry Jones on Redskins owner: Mistake ‘to think that Dan, who is Jewish, has a lack of sensitivity’

Editorial, Washington Post: Dan Snyder continues to defend the indefensible

Gregory Kane, Washington Examiner: Obama should stick to basketball and leave the Redskins alone

Andrew Kirell, Charles Krauthammer on Redskins Name: I Think It’s Over the Line’

Cynthia Littleton, Variety: Bob Costas: Redskins Name Undeniably a ‘Slur’

Indian Country Today Media Network: NCAI [National Congress of American Indians] Report: Redskins Name Has “Ugly and Racist Legacy”

Indian Country Today Media Network: The Washington Post Polls Readers on Team Name

Sean Kirst, Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.: Marv Levy on ‘Redskins’ as a nickname: ‘A crude word,’ even if intent is not to insult

Michael Martinez, CNN: A slur or term of ‘honor’? Controversy heightens about Washington Redskins

Jake O’Donnell, Rick Reilly’s Father-In-Law Just Dropped The Hammer On His ‘Redskins’ Defense Article

Maria Recio, McClatchy Washington Bureau: What’s in a name? For D.C.’s NFL team, yards of controversy

William C. Rhoden, New York Times: Redskins’ Owner Stubbornly Clings to Wrong Side of History

Tim Rogers, D Magazine: Should the Redskins Be Forced To Change Their Mascot?

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: It’s time for the Washington football team to drop the ‘Redskins’ mascot

Michael David Smith, NBC Sports: Rick Reilly: I felt I quoted my father-in-law accurately, he disagrees

Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation: Rick Reilly allegedly misquoted Native American father-in-law in Redskins column

Black Print Magazine Ads Drop, Latino Products Rise

African American-oriented print magazines saw declines in advertising pages in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2012, but Hispanic-oriented print magazines all showed gains, according to new figures from the Publishers Information Bureau. The exception was Siempre Mujer.

The figures are for print magazines only, not their fast-growing tablet magazine counterparts.

Among African American-oriented print magazines, Black Enterprise was down 46.1 percent (it reduced the number of issues in the measuring period from nine in 2012 to five in 2013); Ebony, down 1.3 percent; Essence, down 15.4 percent; and Jet, down 22.5 percent (it reduced the number of issues from 19 to 14).

However, Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., publishers of Ebony and Jet, told Journal-isms by email, “Both magazines are up at the newsstand this year over last year for the first half– which is amazing. We are thrilled.”  Rich Magid, chief financial officer, said Ebony is up 11.9 percent and Jet, 4 percent.

Among Hispanic print titles, Latina rose 14.8 percent, People en Español 4.2 percent, Ser Padres, 6.2 percent, and Siempre Mujer was down 13.9 percent.

Enedina Vega, vice president and publisher of Meredith Hispanic Media, responsible for Siempre Mujer (and Ser Padres), told Journal-isms that last year was an exception. “In 2012 we were fortunate to carry 2 inserts from one company which accounted for 75 PIB pages. That business is not running anywhere this year,” she said by email.

Overall, “digital editions are getting a small slice of the money that used to go solely to print,” Bill Cromwell reported Thursday for “The PIB found that tablet ad units grew 17.5 percent during third quarter, and when those were combined with print ads, total units were up 6.8 percent over last year.

“Still, it’s very likely that ad pages will never return to where they were a few years ago, let alone a decade ago, when the decline began. . . .”