Hello, my name is Deya, and let me be direct: I am addicted to watching the train wreck that is reality TV. I admit this with both shame and slight glee.
First of all, I am a fine arts major who graduated from Howard University with a degree in theatre arts, of all things. By definition, I support the theatre, and the skill set and art form that comes from real actors, real production and real talent. Not only did I spend four years studying my craft; I took the leap to Hollywood and pursued my career in TV and film for seven years there. Needless to say, I have invested a significant part of my life in the traditional entertainment industry and continue to do so. I love it.
Having said that, I admit that on nights when “The Real Housewives” or “Basketball Wives” franchise respectively come on, I get heart palpations as I prepare my food and adult beverage in anticipation of the drama and foolery that will take place. My very educated friends and I then usually start our show recap conversations with “Girl, did you see that?”
Admittedly, I wrestle with why I like these shows so much. Could it be the weekly catfights, the fashion choices, the interaction between black women on parenting, love, struggles with divorce or girlfriends/associates/coworkers working through how to get along? It may be a little of all of the above, but I respect the hustle too. Love them or hate them, we are talking about these woman in our homes, on the phone, at work and yes, even on the radio. These woman are on TV making a living and branding themselves as personalities.
Now, to address the issue of poor images on TV that shape the worlds opinion about black women: I am not convinced that they are the prevailing image-shapers. I would argue that Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Tyra Banks, Mo’nique, Wendy Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and even the TJMS’ own Sybil Wilkes are far more significant as image makers. Of course, they are not the only ones, and not all images are positive. To be direct, every black woman in your family is not a Ph.D, and I’m sure not everyone is a hoodrat. Some are, though, and we are everything in between as well. That’s reality.