Shucking and Jiving: No Way to Brand Ourselves

Sweet Brown (via
Sweet Brown (via

Janell Hazelwood, writing at Black Enterprise, cites the viral video of Sweet Brown, the Oklahoma City woman who escaped a fire in her apartment complex, to argue that "shucking and jiving for checks is not where it's at." She says we can do better when it comes to branding and success.

Sweet Brown, I've had enough.

Some of us chuckled and laughed out loud when we first saw the viral video of Sweet Brown, recounting for a local news station how she escaped a fire at her apartment complex. Some grimaced at yet another stereotypical newscast featuring a minority in an urban community making a fool of themselves.

Maybe I'm being a little too sensitive, but Sweet Brown is among a string of so-called microwave celebrities who gain popularity and build pseudo-brands from stereotypes and ignorant imagery. She joins the ranks of Antwan Dotson, Honey Boo Boo, and Jimmy "The Rent is Too Damn High" McMillan, where serious situations and life issues turn into an opportunity for viral media exposure and 15 minutes of superficial fame.

The message this sends, especially to youth: Forget strengthening marketable skills and using intellect. I can act ridiculous, perpetuate it by milking opportunities, play into a public fascination with subculture stereotypes, and get paid.


Read Janell Hazelwood's entire piece at Black Enterprise.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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