So Oxygen had an hour to kill in the spring and decided All My Babies’ Mamas was “daring” (gotta love press releases) enough programming to fit the bill. I was all set to write a piece about it because I was of two minds about the show. On the one hand, my heart immediately agree with the commenter Tay on Shadow and Act because, at first blush, I fear this can’t help but amount to coonery and buffoonery that only serves to make us look bad.
Okay, well, that actually is where I still stand.
However, when I ran across this article which has given me pause to reflect a moment, especially this quote:
Stop owning the idea of black dysfunction. Stop repeating that “we” act this or that way. Stop believing that every ill-advised or socially unacceptable act of an individual black person (or 20 black people or 1,000) is a blight on the whole of the black community or YOU personally. Stop pretending that all black behavior is endorsed by the black collective. That racist America thinks this way is no endorsement. But taking to comments sections to proclaim loudly your disgrace at how other black people are living is an endorsement of credit-to-your-race type thinking as well as the idea that the caricatures the media treat us to really are representative of our race.
Stop it with the black shame.
As I black artist, this is the tension I am constantly caught in: representing well for the community and being true to my craft. Not to say that you can’t do both, but there is this “weight”, a pressure, to do right by the community, real or imagined. Sometimes, it can’t help but mess with my head and make me second guess my characters or stories. That may be a blog for another day.
For now, I’m glad we got rid of cable because this is exactly the kind of reality show train wreck my wife insists on watching.