Not Angry Just Tired: Thoughts on BET’s Being Mary Jane

Being-Mary-Jane (2)

I have watched the trailers of the new series on BET “Being Mary Jane” starring Gabrielle Union, that will air on July 2nd and I will be watching. I watched all of the trailers and then scrolled to the comment section about the series. Almost all of the comments stated that this was another show that will contain the stereotype of the angry Black woman just like series and movies created by Tyler Perry. Well I did not get that interpretation  when I watched the trailer, I saw a Black woman whose was balancing work, family and love and was tired not angry.

The angry Black woman stereotype live in the idea that the said Black woman is constantly angry at the world and is never happy or have a happy moment. 95 percent of the time she is angry and everyone feels her wrath. Now with that being said about “angry Black women” I did not see the character Mary Jane as angry. She was tired of taking care of a family that did not want to do better for themselves and who felt she would take care of them because she has a great job, no kids of her own and makes a nice living for herself. I also noticed that she wasn’t angry when it came to her love life, but aren we told if we get our stuff together a good man will come. So being educated, financially stable and easy on the eyes, then you should have a good man that complements you. Right???? Then while at work, the scene that it shows is her having a discussion with her boss about a segment she wants to do about a magazine that insulted the way Black women look. Even then as much as she wanted to discuss the magazine her boss talked her out of it so she would not come off as another angry Black woman to the audience.  She was angry but in order not to be seen as such she agreed not to discuss it. (Now I am interested in how that plays out).

So with all of those aspects to her character, she has the right to be angry at times because she is tired. She is tired of being the responsible one in the family, who feels like she has to do because of what she has accomplished in her life and how little her family has not accomplished. You know we have a hard time telling other people no and even harder time telling family no. She does not want to leave her family and she is capable of helping them but she seems tired of the things that happen and how she has to overlook the wrong and still be the responsible one because others choices. Her love life consists of a married man, the man that got away, and a current love interest, but even with her having options she seems tired of her not so committed love life. Their are probably times when it is exciting but for the most part she is a single woman who has to deal with loneliness. Work, in and of itself will make anyone tired, whether you are superwoman or just a regular woman with an 8-5. So many things happen that make you tired of your job and angry sometimes as well.

So to all the people who state this is just another representation of the “angry Black woman” and in the same category with Tyler Perry productions, I beg to differ. I see the potential and will definitely be tuned in to see how this series turns out. Hopefully it will show the complexity of a Black woman who appears to have it all but in reality has to give so much of herself in return for very little. Hopefully it will show her strength and vulnerabilities to the people and things that happen in her life.

For a look at the trailer and some thoughts and reviews of the series, click here


Black in America After Thoughts

Last night I watched Black in America. This installment in the series was great. It really looked at something that people don’t talk about but it happens on a daily basis. Colorism is often overlooked as something that is not as serious as racism. It is overlooked because people do it everyday and don’t give it a second thought as to whether what they are saying is offensive. The thing with colorism is that, it is just as dangerous as racism. It places a hierarchical nature on who is beautiful and who isn’t and how people view themselves. The worse part is that just like racism, colorism is taught. We don’t come out of the womb thinking “Oh she is pretty because she is light skinned and I am not because I am dark skinned”. We only start to make these statements as we grow up and hear other people say them. A very good example is when babies are born and they have a light complexion and people are like oh she/he baby is cute. Then turn around and see a very cute baby that has a darker complexion and give a hair compliment instead, as if because the baby is darker she/he is not a cute. You know they say when people think a child is not cute they will compliment something else about the child other than the looks, i.e., hair, outfit, eyes. So this installment made me think about my own journey with colorism.

As a Black person with darker skin, I can say watching Black in American really resonated with me. I, just like the little girl thought a light complexion was beautiful and that I wasn’t because of my complexion. It impacted how I wore my hair, how I talked, and the friends I surrounded myself with. I was accustomed to being darker than some of my family members and also being called out about it. The only good thing is that my mother didn’t play those games.  She emphasized that we were all beautiful and that your complexion did not make you beautiful. She, having a darker complexion did not bite her tongue when it came to people saying a person was cute because of their complexion. She was very vocal about people who she thought was cute and people she didn’t based on their attitudes and how others treated them.  Most of the time the people she didn’t think were cute, were the people everyone else made a big deal out of and treated them differently because they had a lighter complexion. Although I grew up knowing this, it did not change how I viewed myself. Outside of the house, I still had to hear comments and jokes and my complexion or people who were darker than myself.  My mother, father, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephew, and my great niece all either have a medium or dark complexion.  So you would think we would never call each other Black or ugly or things like that but we did because that was what we knew and heard other say. That was what other people said, excluding my mommy.

It took a while for me to realize that the color of my skin did not make me beautiful but the spirit that was within and how I treated others. It became more apparent as I got older and people who were of a light complexion suddenly became ugly, (and some of them still are) because of their attitudes and how they treated others. It still frustrated me that as much progress I made with my attitudes towards people of different shades of Blackness, I still would heard the same attitudes and words that made my progression difficult.  As I began to gain more confidence in myself and my skin, I began to see a change in how others viewed me. True, most of the time people knew me as the smart girl but I became more than a smart girl when I started to realize that I could be smart and beautiful. 

Now I am not just that smart girl anymore . I am that natural haired girl that talks a lot and wants to teach others about the impact of communication,specifically Black people, who has a really pretty smile and really smooth skin, and who marches to her own beat. True, some people will still characterize me by my complexion and I will still be discriminated against because of my complexion, but I am okay with the person I am. It has taken a long time for me to get there and a few people telling me I am beautiful and redefining what beauty is, for me to get here but I am here.  

So Black in America rocked last night and really made me think about my journey to becoming okay with my complexion and the person I have become!!!

Oh please don’t tell me you think this is real

This summer I am busy working on my thesis, but I am also disturbed by some of the images of Black women that I see.  I knew from the beginning of Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta, I would not be watching. Although I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to watch, I watched the first episode before its television debut, and I was correct. It was too much and far from reality. The sad part is that some people really think it is real. You can’t really think something as drama filled and stereotypical is real. People really don’t act like that.

My interests are Black women friendships, and I was really disappointed to see how our friendships were portrayed in this show. And to think people really like this show. Every Monday night, my Timeline on Facebook and Twitter is filled with people waiting to watch this show.  People have gone so far as to attack a character of the show. Now people are really taking this to far. Some of the women who are friends on the show are questionable in my opinion. There are certain things that friends do for each other that I don’t see. Although I don’t watch the show I do read the tweets and posts, I prefer watching Tia and Tamera on Monday nights, followed by Chicagolicious, then Single Ladies.   

As I am conducting interviews about Black women’s best friendships, I am finding out something I have always known, the reality that is shown on TV shows such as Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta is not reality. I can not control what anyone watches on television but I can say realize this is not real. Look at some of your close friendships and relationships and see if you see all of this happening. You may find some similarities but your life is probably not that full of drama. I have decided that I will not be contributing to horrible representations of Black women by partaking in shows that portray us in a negative light every week. Instead I am busy understanding positive relationships that Black women have and sharing this information with as many people as possible. True, you may know people that live a similar lifestyle to what you see on TV but it is not the life of most Black women. You have to be able to separate reality from entertainment. 

Friends, we all have them

As I begin working on my thesis, I have decided to blog about my topic. I am looking at African-American women friendships with each other. If you look at the portrayals of Black women friendships you are only given the negative portrayals. I have always known that some friendships are horrible but some are quite the contrary. Some are very positive without all of the arguing and negativity that is seen. I think of Oprah and Gayle and Tiny and Toya and I am able to see the positive relationships that Black women are able to have with one another. Basketball wives just puts a damper in my spirit when I see all of the negativity and the fact that people are drawn to that is a serious problem. My research wishes to show a side of friendship that is rarely seen in the African-American community, the side where we actually get along. Black women are able to have positive relationships with each other without all of the bickering, gossiping, backstabbing and fighting and my mission is to show that it is happening and we just don’t get to see it. Real friendships between Black women are possible regardless of what is on TV and in the media.

Who will if I fail to do it?

As I am continuing my education in communication and Black feminism, I am realizing that if I don’t talk about, research and keep Black women in the forefront of my work, then few will. I am working on a project and I looked up the word Feminism. As I was reading Wikipedia, I saw that the only women truly being represented were White women, as if Black women did nothing when it came to the feminist movement. Only a few Black women were acknowledged and even then it was brief just a run of their names. How do you just ignore the impact that women such as Maria Stewart, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell and many more, had on the feminist movement. These women are not mentioned when you talk about feminism in general but they are so important.
Then there is the question why does everyone have to be separate and have separate feminisms? Well, when you think about how these women have been erased from the feminist movement and history in general to just small segments of history, then you might understand why their needs to be specific segments of feminism. Then, there is the fact that Black women have to face racism AND sexism and most of the time, if not all, at the same time. That changes how you move in the world and how you see the world. The problem I have is that people who say they are feminists and they believe this notion that all women regardless of race or class should be a feminist, because we are all women and the feminist movement helps all women. Yeah we are all women but that is about it. True, we want to be treated like human beings and have equal rights and pay and not be discriminated against because I am women, but women of color have a few more obstacles to overcome before we can truly accomplish those goals. Sometimes you need to be separate from people who don’t truly understand particular things about you and be with people who understand you without having to explain everything.
I knew I wanted to study Black women, but know I question that if I fail to see the importance of the Black women who made huge contribution to the society that we have, then why should anyone else see them as important. So in order for these women not to be erased from history that they helped change, acknowledgment and appreciation is due. I can’t hold anyone else accountable for not acknowledging these women, if I don’t do the same, so acknowledging and appreciating is what I will do.

Agree to Disagree

Can you really not agree to disagree? We were in class tonight and I was really wondering about the entire concept of can you agree to disagree within the context of shared meaning and different perspectives. For me agreeing to disagree is okay at some points in time. You are still able to see the other person’s perspective and you can respect it and still hold your same opinion. How is agreeing to disagree and respecting opinions different? By respecting someone’s opinion you are in a sense agreeing to disagree because you see realize that is how the person views a certain opinion. So, in general you are being exposed to different perspectives. So as this relates to shared meaning, if we can’t agree to disagree then that would mean that everyone has the same opinion and their would be no need for criticism or debate. I think this statement is quite far-fetched but it gets to the point I am trying to make. So agreeing to disagree is a way to see various perspectives and to increase other’s knowledge about what they know.

Oh How Things Have Changed?

Today was a rather interesting. We looked at how different culture used communication and what was their idea of the use of rhetoric. As we were going over all of these things, we started talking about the formality within certain cultures and how the use of communication is restricted. It made me think about our society and how we have change, but yet have stayed the same.
The first thing that I could relate to this type of attitude and social construction was the evolution of women’s civil liberties and Black people. As it starts with women’s rights and liberties, there was once a time when women were only allowed to voice their opinion when they were given permission. If they voiced their opinion at any other time it was shunned upon and seen as inappropriate. If you look at society now, people would say oh how we have progressed and changed. They would look at the examples of women running their own businesses and being able to do for themselves along with voicing their opinions. But when you really look at it, how much have we really changed? True women do have more civil liberties than before, but we are still placed in categories as to what we can and can not do or what our ability as women will allow us to do. This is all deemed as correct in relation to societal norms. When you look at where women are now compared to the struggle and lack of civil liberties they had before, it is progress but there is still progress to be made.
When you think about the Black culture in general, oppression is one of the first things you think about, whether you intend to or not. As it comes to Black people they were not able to speak when they felt like it and if you were technical they were not able to speak or voice an opinion to anyone but a person who looked like them and knew what they were going through. Over the time this notion has changed, but how much though? When you look at society now you see these black people who voice their opinion all the time. But the problems comes with since everyone has the civil liberty of freedom of speech, everyone can voice their opinion but who will actually listen and take heed or action from what you are saying. If people are speaking just to be speaking and no one is listening or acting than what does it matter that they are speaking. This sense of freedom of speech is great because unlike other cultures where there is one set of opinions for everyone, here, everyone is able to voice their own opinion. As Black people, however is this notion of communication that has been given to everyone something that is taken for granted or just overlooked.
When you look at other cultures and compare what they deem as communication and what we deem as communication and freedom of speech, where does the difference lie? Yes we are able to state our opinion on any matter whenever and however we would like, but just because we state our opinion does not mean people will listen. If people do not listen and just continue to do what is deemed normal in society, then are we still restricting communication. What’s the difference between my ability to express myself and other people’s ability to not do the same? If no one is listening we are both having the same effect, which is not effect at all.