Sabrina Lamb’s online petition to keep ATL rapper Shawty Lo‘s proposed Oxygen Network program “All My Babies’ Mamas” off the air, appears to have done its job.
According to the Daily Beast’s Allison Samuels, the petition – which so far has accrued nearly 40,000 signatures – and the public’s overall negative response, has pressured the network – although it’s denying it – to announce shortly that production of the program will not go forward.
At first, Oxygen defended the project by offering this: “It was not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society.’’ Unless I’m mistaken, the term “baby mama” is used almost exclusively in reference to black women, so Oxygen needed to do better than that. If the show was about a white man with 11 children and had the same title, we might be able to have a different conversation.
Samuels points out that Lamb’s Change.org petition to stop production of “All My Babies’ Mamas” gathered more than 33,000 signatures in just 10 days. Here, the former stand-up comic, media commentator and author of “A Kettle of Vultures,” provides insight as to what motivated her to start the petition in the first place.
“I love that the people who’ve signed the petition are from all backgrounds, ages, and countries,’’ says Lamb. “This one elderly white man wrote me and said even he was tired of the stereotypical images of black people.’’
“This show is about more than a rapper and his girlfriends,’’ says Lamb. “This is a show about kids who had no choice in how they came into the world. This show sets them up to be ridiculed and made fun of. None of us should be OK with that.’’
Lamb had also threatened to lead a boycott of any sponsors who put their money behind the idea. Luckily, Oxygen apparently saw the light.
Sabrina Lamb wasn’t the only voice to speak out against the show. So did Morris O’Kelly, a/k/a Mo’Kelly, host of “The Mo’Kelly Show” on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles.
“Some fights you must fight … on principle alone. This would be one of them,” Mo’Kelly blogged recently here at EURweb. “This fight is about having standards, knowing when television programming has in fact gone too far or finally found the basement.”
Via email, we asked Mo’Kelly to comment on Samuel’s report that “All My Babies’ Mamas” is set to be cancelled. Here is his response:
“Every now and then we must remind corporate America, our children are not for sale and their exploitation is not fodder for entertainment programming. There are standards which still exist, both for media and for our community.
Be exceptionally clear in this moment, the power is and always has been ours to set a meaningful example for young people, individually and collectively.
Let us now remain vigilant and ever-watchful, making sure that we don’t come this way again. It is not a time to celebrate but instead one to soberly assess how we arrived here. We condone neither the lifestyle of Shawty Lo nor the lacking vision of the Oxygen network. The former opened the door for the latter, and ultimately both must be addressed. Today is one important and very public step towards both.
It is our hope all networks take notice and strive to do better in their creative decision-making and maintain a consistent, healthy dialogue with communities of color moving forward. If not…then we will mobilize again…and again and again.”