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Have Black Women Earned the Right to an Attitude?

Have Black women earned the right to an attitude?

“Reality” media continues to rule the airwaves, giving the world a glimpse into the intentional interaction of anxious exhibitionists with conflicting chemistry. Recently the show Celebrity Apprentice amuses us with a hodge-podge blend of actors, rappers, country music singers, musical legends, sports stars, televisions hosts, you name it. This cast of characters without much in common outside of their celebrity status and jones for the limelight (justified with occasional donations to charity) is thrown together amid circumstances that breed tension and conflict in order to give us (the viewing audience) exactly what we want…. drama. But of course. What else is television for?

As is typically the case on The Apprentice, the men are pitted against the women, which is one of the reasons I watch. It’s fascinating to examine the differences in how groups of men and women interact. Both team have conflict. The men face relational problems and issues just as the women do. But the character and depth of those issues, and how they handle, react and relate to each other, particularly when it counts, is vastly different.

Cultural and racial variety is evident on both teams, and an integral part of the ensuing discord that makes the show somewhat interesting. This season, on the women’s team there are 3 and ¼ Black women. I’m not sure how to qualify Latoya Jackson, so she is counted at the fourth. Not necessarily referring to the “Black” part either. Perhaps the woman part. Or maybe even the presumption of “human” that is derived from the term woman, but I digress…  (slow down, this is totally not meant as disrespect, “humans” are overrated anyway).

So of the remaining 3, there are some strong personalities. Star Jones, Dionne Warwick (which was a mind blower for me), and Nene Leeks (Atl Housewives). In the second episode, the teams were tasked with writing and performing a children’s story for a group of 4 and 5 year old children. I must say, when I found this show on television, I was no less than baffled, having to take a series of pauses to thoughtfully digest who and what was racing before me on screen. After forcing Lisa Rinna (the girl with the oversized collagen lip, who had to actually have a ‘lip reduction’…. (sorry for the double parenthetical, but c’mon man! Ridiculous. And pure irony given all the lip she got right back from Star & Dionne)) to act as the project manager, and thus be potentially ‘fired,’ 2 of the 3 (& ¼) Black women literally nailed her ass to the floor. It was horrible.

Shining in the stench of her own ego, Star began calling the shots. Asserting herself as a true saavy business woman who knows what to do and how to do it, and by necessary circumstance, making Rinna look bad. Truthfully, she was patronizing, demoralizing, cunning, hard, manipulative, and mocking, with just a dash of stank. Rinna might not have been the brightest camper on the bus, but she knew enough to know Star and Warwick had their guns blazing. I thought she did a good job of shielding herself from their largely uncalled for attacks during their process (although she floundered in the boardroom).

Sadly, legendary Dionne Warwick revealed herself as… well, pretty much a bitch. Which means, her previous image is completely fake, which in my estimation makes her akin to a minstrel. It’s one thing if you’re truly happy go lucky with a big bright smile on your face, but if that’s only an act to please the masses, if you’re just shucking and jiving for their delight, while harboring some other deep contradiction in terms of who you really are, then you’re a minstrel show for the masses.

But, as minstrel shows and other forms of Black entertainment were an important stepping stone in the standing and progression of African Americans historically, can we really place blame? Black women in particular have been gravely demoralized, subjugated, dehumanized, and made to bear the brunt of displaced anger from Black men, White men and White women (and that’s putting it mildly). Can we blame Black women for the resulting ‘attitude’ that is stereotypically seen and felt?

In the boardroom scene of the show, both Star and Warwick ripped into Rinna. Hate seething in their eyes, they manipulated the whole conversation. Trump himself saw that they were playing Rinna, and gave her every opportunity to defend herself. He spoon fed her the defensive line of arguments that could have saved her, again reminding me (and probably Star and Warwick) of the gross advantages that White women mindlessly enjoy in relation to so many Black women. Yet even despite this, I found myself unable to muster any camaraderie or sympathetic connection with Star or Warwick. Although they were the stronger more saavy competitor, I found myself disgusted.

But is it the case that Black women have earned a right to this type of attitude? Have I have sold out? Turned a blind eye to a traumatic legacy that may lay the foundation of stone resistance and brash determination? Or is this heinous attitude a farce to begin with, largely perpetrated by media? Or is it just the case that despite it’s anthropological roots, if it walks like a duck and talk like a duck…. it’s probably just a bitch?

One Response to Have Black Women Earned the Right to an Attitude?

  1. I don’t think that an entire race of people can have a right to an attitude. Certainly some amount of sensitivity to certain circumstances is understandable, and there is a common experience among black Americans of having felt some painful racist incident in thier life. But, I’m not sure that gives anyone the right to an attitude. Surely there are other people who have been made to feel bad for one reason or another thoughout their lives. Probably most. So, lets not engage in a competition about who has it worse – or had it the worst, but work to make it better. Unfortunately, the media does not help in this regard, making sure that there are more than the fair share of very angry and very loud and very emotional black woman for us to be entertained by. Some non-black women are portrayed in a similar fashion (a la Real Housewives of NJ), but there is definitely more balance. I hate to think we live in a society in which the loudest and most obnoxious one wins.

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