Shaunie O'Neal on Black Women's Portrayal on Reality TV

Shaunie O'Neal (
Shaunie O'Neal (

VH1's reality show Basketball Wives is clearly a guilty pleasure of ours (hence the weekly recaps), but can we honestly say that it helps the image of black women on reality TV? The show's executive producer and star, Shaunie O'Neal, seems to think so. In commentary published on, O'Neal said that she tries to strike the right balance between drama and positivity in her show but recognizes that that doesn't always happen on reality TV in general.

I have gotten both good and bad responses from viewers about Basketball Wives, and I certainly understand the opinion that the shows portrayal of black women is beginning to look somewhat negative.

As you see on the show, I'm not a big supporter of the bickering, drink throwing and fighting, but when you put a group of strong, independent and vocal women who are going through or just came out of a bad relationship together, there's bound to be a little drama.

Let's face it, we all know women like the ones on Basketball Wives and countless other reality shows: Women who are vocal if you cross them.

The problem for me is when black women are portrayed as only being that way and labeled different than their non-black counterparts for the same type of behavior. That's when it becomes negative and damaging to our image.

I'm not saying we have to create shows that only paint a pretty picture about who we are, but there should be a balance and most of all some integrity to the shows we create.



At no point in her commentary does O'Neal actually call out the shows that she thinks aren't striking the right balance, undercutting her "At least we're not as bad as that" argument.

Read the rest of her op-ed at and let us know whether or not you agree with her.

In other news: Got Milk? Drink's Vitamin D May Cut Diabetes Risk.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.