Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Is what went through my head when I found out the alleged killer of the young woman slain in the Bethesda clothing store a couple of weeks ago was a black female coworker. Now don’t get me wrong, I am saddened a young woman was killed and a bit relieved that this was not a random act of violence in an area thought to be safe. However, as a black woman, every time I hear about another black person doing something negative, I still cringe. Yes, I know what this person did doesn’t or shouldn’t affect me but lets be honest; even today, many people still judge us by the color of our skin and not the content of our character. Before I open my mouth, there are many people out there who think they know all there is to know about me simply because I am a black woman. I can’t begin to count the many times I’ve had to tell someone not to treat me a certain way based on stereotypes of women or black people or the combination of the two.
Really sir, you’re surprised I’m not an unwed mother?
Yes, I actually dig U2 and many other rock groups, past and present.
Surprising, I know, but I’m actually not after your money.
Yes, it is shocking that I don’t have an unprovoked bad attitude.
The last one really “grinds my gears” because there are so many people (and by people, I mean folks of all races) who fall prey to the idea that black women are mean. And there are many out there ready to exploit that thought to the fullest.
Especially in the media. Shall I count the many reality shows featuring angry, mean spirited black women. There’s Basketball Wives, Housewives of Atlanta, Bad Girls Club, The Apprentice (have you seen Star Jones and Nene Leaks go at it?) random VH1 celebrity dating show. And even shows that focus on black women as alleged friends fall into the “black women gotta hate on each other” routine. Although Girlfriends was what I dubbed the black Sex and the City, rival gangs had closer ties than these women and the series ended with one of the characters never mending her friendship with one of the other ladies (granted she left the series but still… and the show never got an official finale- I don’t want to see it as a stage play like they did for the Jeffersons so they could have some closure to their canceled series. Okay back to the program recently in progress). And don’t get me started on the Game; is anyone friends on that show?
Oh and other shows that feature a black female character (hard to find but there are some) sometimes fall into the routine. For the first few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, the only black female on the show was called “the Nazi”. Regina King’s character in Southland and Jada Pinkett's character in Hawthorne are both tough but in a good way as one is a good detective and the other is a nurse fighting for her patients and fellow nurses. Still the underlying message is black women can have a tough edge.
And that’s fine if used in a positive light or at the very least shown in as much light as the negative images. Now that Oprah is going off the air, where is the balance? These images affect who wants to date us, hire us, befriend us, and provide customer service to us. And yes, I know that what this girl did in Bethesda wasn't fiction and there are many women who embody the sterotypes we are fighting against just please don't lump me in those same groups.
So how about for every Precious movie we have to applaud let’s send some spotlight to For Colored Girls (I’m sorry, Loretta Divine or Kimberly Elise should have got at least an Oscar nod but I guess they weren’t angry enough) and for every act of violence by a black woman that is televised can we show some positive actions by black women? Hey, if I need to volunteer in Japan to help where I can I would (just someone give me some money to get there and explain to my manager at my new job!). That may be asking too much, I'm well aware but let’s just show some other sides to us, because, like all people, we are not one dimensional!
*steps off soap box...until another day*