Greetings y’all. Wore this to a “PR mixer” over the weekend.
Top: Zara; Belt- H&M; Skirt – Zara; Heels- Urban OG.com
I won’t speak on the mixer or the attendance (or cough cough, lack thereof), but it frustrated me. Maybe I’m just looking in all the wrong places, or I just haven’t figured it out yet but it seems as though there are very few events, social or otherwise geared toward the young 20 something year old black professional. Maybe it’s because we have all just graduated from college and are still figuring things out or we are in grad school or law school or moving across the country, trying to find a job, or just make some cash or maybe we are all just a bit scatter brained in general, but I find it hard to connect with black professionals my own age. But maybe that’s just the way of the world…which reminds me of the show “Being Mary Jane” which premiered last week.
(WARNING: if you have not seen the show, spoilers will follow)
The premise of the show is about a young black female professional (Gabrielle Union), who is smart, young, beautiful and at the peak of her career making a good amount of money. However she is also
1. single, trying to distance herself from a man who claims to be in love with her even though she just found out that he has a wife and kids at home while she is also simultaneously attempting to rekindle an old flame
2. has the weight of taking care of her entire family on her shoulders, emotionally and financially, as well as being there for a best friend who is struggling with depression.
3. making sure she is making the right moves at work to keep her great job while also struggling with sacrificing her career to make time for love, her family, and herself
While the above description may seem stereotypical and redundant, it’s a reality many black, female professionals can identify with. So I was getting kind of annoyed and frustrated when I saw such negative feedback about the show and how it was simplified into a TV show that depicted a “bitter black woman”.
Welp, lets take a look at the stats.
According to a 2009 study of why there are so many single, black females
of black woman in the US have never been married (this is double the # of white woman). There are also 1.8 million more black women
in the US than black men. And in addition, black women are less likely
to date outside their race than black men. So, you see, we have a bit of a conundrum here.
Please, please, please show me the television shows, or the mini series, or the movies, or the documentaries that dive into this problem in 2014. I can understand the feeling of the need to control the images we place out there about black people. We would much rather see a show about a Claire Huxtable who has all her shit together. But we are still dealing with a “chicken and the egg” problem of sorts. Are we more concerned about pushing and promoting as much good, quality, media as we can with black characters on a variety of subjects or
are we more concerned with controlling the image of how a black person should act and be portrayed in the media? We need to see more stories about successful black people but I also want see something real that I can truly vibe with.
And the fact of the matter is we are seeing more black faces on TV, and not always in the best light. VH1’s top 5 shows in terms of total viewers, from December 2012 to October 2013 include Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta, T.I. & Tiny, Marrying The Game, Hit The Floor, and Basketball Wives.
While I’ll admit, I enjoy a good riff between Joseline and Stevie J, “reality TV” doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture of what really goes on in the average person’s day.
However, in addition, Indiewire author Tambay Obenson hypothesizes that
“shows like Scandal, Orange Is The New Black, Sleepy Hollow, American Horror Story: Coven, and more (including the above 5 programs that are carrying the VH1 network currently, as well as the growth Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network has seen since its own shift in programming a year ago, after an early troubled start) seeing record ratings, which I’ve attributed in part because each of these series feature black actors in starring, or prominent roles this season, and some of them are actually well put together.”
So we are making progress, our faces are out there. I think it’s amazing that we are able to have a show like Scandal that has a black female lead but doesn’t focus on the fact that she is black. It is definitely weaved throughout the story but it’s not overt. “Being black” is not a main plot of the story line, it just… is. However, I really believe we are missing the mark with TV shows depicting “the black experience geared at the 18-24 year old demographic..or even 18-35.
Where oh where are the shows like A Different World, Living Single, or Girlfriends that depict the struggles of trying to get it together as a young, black professional?
I believe there is a fundamental need for media that carefully & intelligently explores the journey of the young black professional in 2014; works that pick apart the some of unique issues we find ourselves dealing with on a daily basis. Social media alone has created a sub set of problems that no one could have anticipated, and are unique to this demographic.
There will always be a place for TV shows celebrating and depicting the successful black family like the Cosby show or The Bernie Mac Show, or Everybody Hates Chris or My Wife and Kids but we need a story that focuses on young people that look like us, dealing with the issues we face on the daily.
I for one am happy to see Being Mary Jane on television, opening up a forum to talk about things like mental health, black love, and the glass ceiling. But maybe thats just me.
If you’ve seen the show, or even if you haven’t, what do you think about the state of blacks in the media today?
Anyways, excuse my rant, hope you catch Being Mary Jane tonight
on BET. Happy Tuesday!