Black Women in Fandoms: 101 : Identification & Characterization (a series)

Welcome To Black Women Fandoms 101. IDENTIFICATION  If you’ve ever taken a course with me Like Black Women Shaming 101, you know that this post will be devoted to pointing out all of the fuckery of the treatment of black women characters in fandoms. Why is this important? Not simply a means of venting Black Women Fandoms 101 is designed to point out the very obvious very hidden ways that black women characters are marginalized so black women can be aware that they are watching their own subjugation.

So let’s open our books and take a look at all the different ways that black women play a role/ characters that black women play in fandoms. You may have heard of some of these or not. The point of this series is really more like a “refresher course” of black women in the media. And No this isn’t just a rant post I will get to the point of all of this in the next two posts.

Note: If you have not already noticed from the pictures above I will be using black women who are characters on popular television series’ today. Also note that Other people have pointed many of these phenomenon’s out I just put a name some that needed them.

Let’s get started we have a lot of material to cover

1.       The Mammy:

This character will go down in infamy as the most common and most  annoyingly overused characterization of black women in American Media. The mammy is the character that everyone knows, and everybody looks through. The mammy is dedicated to helping the white characters (usually white women women) achieve their hopes and dreams or is constantly dethroned ( also think Mercedes on Glee who just isn’t  as good enough as Rachel). The mammy is usually overweight (think Mercedes from Glee)  and she is usually happy that way. Unlike her white counterparts the Mammy is not only happy to be the unattractive sidekick to the white character, she is completely “defanged”. That is, like a rattle snake that has lost its venom the mammy has no sexuality. ( or given unsuccessful relationships like the one with Sam)Unlike the potent beauty and sexuality of her white counterpart the black Mammy best friend simply exists. There is no past, no present, no future. (though there may be some illusion to an unsuccessful past relationship that might explain her frigidness) No hope for relationships outside of the one sided exclusively beneficial ones. She is only around to serve and protect. To the cost and detriment of her own self.

2.        The Mother:

Similar to the mammy although she is not as self sacrificing and does think about herself.  She is very motherly to the people around her and while she may not be de- sexualized her sexuality is always muted in comparison to their white counterparts. For example Shirley on Community at first is a divorced housewife who later gets back together with her cheating, philandering ex husband when she becomes pregnant by him.  While The Mother may be sexual she is not sexual with any of the main characters. Yes she had a one night stand( drunken)   with a (lesser) character  ( who is characterized as awful and unappealing). And she was comically hit on in the beginning seasons by ( Chevy Chases character) but nobody likes either.  Her sexuality is off screen as to not be offensive. And the love she gets is relegated to second best. And certainly not with the leads.

And as the writers of Community have had the character of Shirley note on the show in a sort of Meta way, she is frequently assumed to be the “mother ” (and insulting called “mother hen” by one of the women of the group though through flashbacks  (and said often throughout the show) it is later shown she is the exact age of Jeff Winger (Joel McHale’s Character) And not much older than one of the other women in the group. Though also noted through the show he has slept with all of the women but him.

The mother may have some character development but most likely it will have to do with her family like on Community.

3.        The Antithesis:

This character is the stark contrast or exact opposite of the white female character/ heroine. Where the white female character is probably skinny beautiful, smart courageous or any other positive characterization, The Antithesis black female character will be the exact opposite. For Example, think True Blood. Tara Thorton acts as the Antithesis  of the white female character Sookie Stackhouse. If Sookie is loved by everyone, Tara is generally overlooked.  If Sookie is portrayed as courageous Tara is a whining pestiferous weakling frequently victimized and has no agency.  If Sookie is optimistic and hopeful about love and life, Tara is the one that knows it “aint gone get no better.”  This is also seen in looks/ appearance too. While Sookie Stackhouse is blonde and beautiful and loved by many vampires and humans alike because of her (“light”) Tara is the dark skinned (their portrayal not mine)  dark souled, just generally DARK  character who simply sucks the life and love out of a room (no matter how well her reasons are like RAPE).

4.       The “Ëscape Goat”:  

This character is simply there for one purpose and one purpose only: They are designed to be so hideous, so unlikable, so nasty,  that the general audience hates them. This black female character usually comes along with a bad attitude (for no apparent reason).  They are unattractive, overweight, loud, Larry, and generally a hassle to other characters. (Pick a show and  any black female character can fit this role.)  Generally this is so because this character is there to distract the audience from the less than desirable qualities of the main white cast of characters (a lot of times the white female character).  Recently I read some comments about how the character Bonnie on the Vampire Diaries was treated deplorably .(I do not watch the show but I have seen clips and have seen what they are talking about) and one commenter said this

(no subject) – pistol_eyes – Expand

nicenicegirl 13th-Apr-2012 09:57 pm (UTC)

that’s my issue with her tbh. i liked her in season 1, and then i couldn’t put my finger on all of a sudden why i stopped liking her, and then one day i figured out it was because i don’t think we’re supposed to. we’re barely given any info on her and they only call her in for help when they need a witch. it’s awful how they treat her.

 

As this smart viewer brought to my attention. The viewers are not supposed  to like this character. Bonnie Bennet is not going to get any screen time because Bonnie Bennett is there to serve her purpose (mammy) while holding all of the so called characteristics that nobody likes( although ironically many times if you look closely characters like this actually have many admirable qualities) . Thus distracting the audience from the same lesser crappy qualities of the rest of the cast of characters.

If anyone has ever seen the show Community there is an episode in season (1?) In which Shirley (played by Yvette Nicole Brown) threatens to leave the group if they don’t kick Pierce (Chevy Chases’ character out.)The result? They kick him out but they all soon notice that they soon they start turning on each other as they realize that since Pierce was the most obnoxious. He almost “balanced” the group because they were all focused on how much they hated him and his bad flaws instead of everyone else’s bad traits. Soon after they try and find which member will be the new “escape goat” (Troys’words)   When that fails they are desperate to get Pierce back in the group to balance everything out again.  Thus order is returned.  Or if this example doesn’t suit your fancy think Dan on Gossip Girl frequently he was the target of derision of the Upper East Siders though most of them were more morally corrupt than him.

This is the role of the black female ‘escape goat”. She is not there to be developed, loved, liked, cared about. Her past will not be looked at or examined closely. She is simply there as a diversion to make the rest of the cast more adhesive and cohesive.

 5.       The Resilient One: AKA The Strong Woman or The Sufferer

The tagline “She suffers, so your favorite character won’t have to” should be the tagline of this characterization . She is there to suffer and that is it. She is the Annie of the group except the sufferer will never meet her Daddy Warbucks or her Knight in Shining Armor.Tara from She is there to take the burden of the suffering.  Tara from True Blood Is a good example. Tara frequently has nobody in her life to care about her. Her mother disowned her and was mean before she left her life. She has no father to anyone’s knowledge. She barely has any friends and the people she loves frequently die and are never replaced with other stronger bonds with other people others unlike Sookie.

Further, the sufferer provides the real gritty story lines without having to defile the white female characters by giving the stories to them. Think how Tara was raped for a lot of Season Three on True Blood and she never received any help afterwards. ( And please don’t be obtuse about Jason being raped also on the show. Because his character is actually given insight and thoughts whereas Tara is NOT for the majority of the time unless it is to characterize her worse)   .

But of course you could NEVER show  Sookie or Arlene or Jessica or Pam being raped. NO the Sufferer is the mule the woman who can be the whipping post for the show provide “real” moments while leaving characters like Sookie and Elena virtually unharmed.  Or think how in the Walking Dead comic book  ( I’ve never read)  Michonne the black woman was the women who was raped brutally.

The resilient woman is there to take the hideous, heinous, crimes get up without a care, without protection or help or concern and brush it off. ( or deal with it off screen as someone pointed out about bonnie on vampire diaries or how Tara left town on True Blood)

Indeed she may be admired (or Not because * ironically* most people don’t like these characters, for being “Strong”)but she is certainly not LOVED.

6.       Sassy Black:   AKA the Comedy Act ( But the punch line is she’s actually not funny)

Sassy should be her first name and Black should be her last because that’s all you need to here to sum up her entire life.  She is the loud, larry, (fat) unattractive, neck bobbing, angry bitter, jealous and everything in between. Usually this character is also the comedy act. Think Sherri Sheperd or whendy Williams.   Sassy black is known for her comedic timing and jokes. She snaps her fingers with impeccable timing as she tells her jokes about “dem white peeples”   but she’s generally just….Unappealing. Think the black woman from (Donna from parks and recreation)

The comedy act is there to reaffirm audiences that black women are indeed in their place as the lovable buffoons that they’ve  always been. While threatening in manner she is no threat to white female hierarchy because she’s too busy shucking and jiving.

Sassy Black, As others have pointed out, Also may be hyper sexual. ( Sassy Black has that mythical black women self confidence)  Though we never see the men ( as someone pointed out about Donna Parks and Rec). She frequently also takes on the Jezebel stereotype of black women to a T.

Sassy Black is a woman who would be described as someone who ‘doesn’t take shit” or “tells it like it is”. Sassy Black rolls her eyes, express frustration at all the white people around her and express  her indignation with the best of em.  Sassy black has no hope for the future and is satisfied with herself even though there is MUCH to be desired.

But of course audiences “love” this character the most.  Many times Sassy Black Is the enforcer/ protector of her white female counterparts who also gives advice/ lives vicariously through the white character.

* Angry Black

Note: Angry Black  is  under the same umbrella of Sassy Black. And we all know about her.) She is angry for no apparent reason and she may or may not tell jokes. But one thing is for certain she is a force to be reckoned with regardless.

Similar to the maid, ( Florence?) on The Jefferson’s she is disheveled and distressed and loves to engage in angry (and sometimes witty)  repartee with the rest of the characters. She is the basic of any good sitcom or show. She’s pissed at the world and the world steps out of her way. I don’t even have to list a show. She is  in plenty.  Though if you *need* on think HELEN on the show Drake and Josh who is ironically also played by Yvette Nicole Brown.

Angry black woman can also be overweight. And Angry Black Woman can also be physically or verbally abusive ( especially showing jealousy to white female characters or just anger at white male characters).  She also loves to harangue respectable black men. Think Wendy Williams character in the movie “Think Like a Man”

,,,  << Kelly Big Time Rush
and above this is Lanie from Castle

7. The Best Friend:   

The best friend is actually likable. She has the most potential to be the fresh faced girl next door character close to the white female character. Except with The Best Friend while she is likable, relatable, etc. she is never given the chance or is simply not delved into like Kelly on Big Time Rush or Lanie on Castle. Usually like the character Bonnie on Vampire Diaries another of these characterizations gets in the way and she transforms into nothing but a shell.   She does not date ( and certainly not the lead ( though the character Lanie is given another minor character as a love interest though its mostly off screen and shown through the mans point of view) ( Kelly on Big Time Rush is also never seen dating anyone they don’t even allude to her age either) She is a threat in many fandoms because if she is actually given the good story lines  she will be liked. Most importantly she is a threat to the other female characters. As someone pointed out about Bonnie on the VD her character while interesting is never given any roles because if she was she would become more interesting than paper doll ( no agency) Elena or Caroline. She has the potential to disrupt (take focus off) the story by her own charms so she MUST BE DESTROYED.  The Best Friend aka The Girl Next Door doesn’t last long.

She can’t.

8. Rough, Tough And Tumble:

She is supposed to be the female embodiment of feminism and empowerment. She is the strong, (but nowhere near as strong as The Resilient and she may never know  true suffering like getting raped though she has had her normal share of pain) She is simply the black women that “kicks but” takes name, is a good friend, all while dressing sensibly. She is usually of average looks (or her looks are played down for audiences sake) and she is generally never given a love interest ( because of course she’s too strong for that.)  She is the character white female audiences may salivate over because she is strong (which they can enjoy for the sake of principles) but they also get there cake and frosting because they generally enjoy the softer (white) characters. Think of black female captain on the show Castle who makes people call her “SIR”( for respect and has the nickname ” Iron Gates” ) . Or Regina Kings character on Southland or even Jocelyn Carter on Person of interest.  (I mention Person of Interest not even because of what the writers have done but because of the audiences blatant need to shove her into this role despite all evidence of her  NOT being Rough, Tough and Tumble. Carter is very vulnerable but that is a BIG problem for audience members)

Usually Rough, Tough And Tumble, “gives as good as she gets’ with men ( a feminist’s wet dream)  and is generally just seen as “one of the guys” ( or course she doesn’t get in the way of white  love interests on the show.)

And of course similar to mammy she doesn’t want to either.

Rough, Tough, Tumble provides a touch of realism  (she wears sensible clothes, strong, tough, un feminine)  without having to make black women real. ( she has no love and certainly not the lead usually they might be off the screen love interest as not to upset “progressive audiences”)

9.

Brown Face: 

Brown face may not be a negative portrayal she is just… there. She may very well have lines, she may very well be a supporting cast member but she was only cast for one reason. To fill the quota to keep the angry black beasts  from  RIOTING Hollywood. She is a placation, a place marker for black women audiences. Someone on other posts has pointed out Astrid on Fringe. She is there to provide color ( and she may or may not be a full black actress though it doesn’t matter its for look and her race is generally never mentioned )but she is NOT there to do anything more than assist.

[NO PICTURE AVAILABLE]

10.    Invisible Girl:  

Invisible girl is just that….. Invisible.  You would think it would be impossible to have a black female characterization about a character that isn’t there but actually INVISIBLE is  one of the biggest most used characterizations. Invisible Black Girl, simply never SHOWS UP, though her existence is implied. Think the erasure of black women in Red Tails who were neither shown in  thought or flashback.  As many viewers pointed out and the love story was then replaced with a black man and a white woman. And this isn’t even targeting the interracial aspect. The point is that Invisible black girl is simply not around when things are happening though her existence is alluded to or implied. They may be married but there will be no pictures nothing, only a ring if that. Think how the first black male Captain on Castle had a wife that only showed up at his funeral and the episode dealing with the aftermath of his death. Then she faded into the background.  Invisible Black Girl is always someone’s, cousin, sister, mother, but her existence is simply null outside of that. And you often wonder how other black male characters exist for all of the thought given to them.  But if Invisible Girl shows up like, she is mostly a plot device to further another character.  Some people may quote the backlash of (Broomhilda from Django Unchained whose story was never shown. I’ve never seen it so I am not sure) Or think about Gus on the show Psyche. Gus is a character whom even with flashbacks we don’t know who his family is who is mother is, if he has siblings etc. It is almost as if he was born unto himself.

…..

Whew, thanks for sitting through this flash course on Black Women Fandoms, This was just a brief introduction/ flash course.  I hope that this provided an identification number  for these characters to black women will see them coming a mile away. If you are still interested in learning more this class will continue with these next posts in this series

Black Women in Fandoms : 102

Until Next Time,

Stay Neutral.

Not Special Thanks to these posts who brought many things to my attention ( or refined what I was already thinking) so I was able to make an amalgamation of the trends that were being put in front of us.

http://www.racialicious.com/2012/04/10/why-the-vampire-diaries-treatment-of-bonnie-bennett-and-her-fans-bites/

http://www.tvovermind.com/commentary/vampire-diaries-black-witches-42633

http://xalexiel.blogspot.com/2012/02/vampire-diaries-and-race.html

http://www.ankhesen-mie.net/2012/02/poc-of-vampire-diaries-bonnie-bennett.html

http://irresistible-revolution.tumblr.com/post/34927148809/the-mammification-of-bonnie-bennett-or-why-we-bonnie

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48 thoughts on “Black Women in Fandoms: 101 : Identification & Characterization (a series)

  1. Informative post. Haven’t watched a majority of the shows you’ve talked about. However, I am very familiar with the mammy character, and was very irritated by the absence of Black women in the redtails movie. I actually wish I didn’t watch it. Thanks for the post :).

  2. Reading this post, I had a revelation. And it was about the show Scandal, and why it makes certain people so uncomfortable: Abby is the Angry/sassy BW stereotype, but she’s white. Liv is smart and courageous, yet vulnerable, heroine who’s always getting told off by other people, even some of the people close to her, but she never “gives as good as she gets”, and this upsets many BW. They love the show, but wish Olivia would tell people to go to hell when they get in her face. LOL.

    They miss the point that Liv doesn’t have to be the angry BW to get what she wants, because she has others who will do whatever is necessary to help her out. This includes the Abby character damaging her relationship with a man she is in love with to help Liv.

    When you think about it, the characters are usually flipped on every other TV show and movie. The BW is always the one who sacrifices her happiness for her WW friend, NEVER the other way around. Till now. LOL. I love that!

    And I LOVE this post! Looking forward to your next.

    @Tia
    I did not go to see Red Tails, because if they (White supremacist Hollyweird) thought it was alright to make a movie about the Tuskeegee (sp?) airmen, yet exclude their families and loved ones I saw no reason to hand over my hard earned money to see it. Maybe they’ll think twice next time. Maybe. In any case, I vote with my bank account.

    • They miss the point that Liv doesn’t have to be the angry BW to get what she wants, because she has others who will do whatever is necessary to help her out. This includes the Abby character damaging her relationship with a man she is in love with to help Liv.

      When you think about it, the characters are usually flipped on every other TV show and movie. The BW is always the one who sacrifices her happiness for her WW friend, NEVER the other way around. Till now. LOL. I love that!

      This! It is exactly how people have a problem with Reese (and Fusco) caring about Carter for some *odd* reason and the fact that he wanted to protect her in the Get Carter episode and during dead reckoning. Usually black women aren’t in that role and it makes them feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to do with the new information and new role for black women.

      • I had no idea that people were upset that Reese and Fusco (both men) would want to protect Carter, who’s a woman. That’s so stupid! I have seen both those episodes, and I didn’t think there was anything strange about it at all. Never gave it a second thought. Weird that anyone would think it somehow inappropriate for men to feel protective of a woman they know is in danger. You meet all kinds on the internet. LOL.

        I wonder if the “people” who have this issue with it are WW. I have noticed in real life, that if a BW has ANYTHING some WW will act as if you snatched it away from them. And I do mean anything: a nice home, a nice car, a nice husband, a good job. It seems like, in their minds, only they or someone who looks like them (White) should have it. Extreme narcissism coupled with racism.

        • Well from what I’ve read people were less disgruntled about Fusco wanting to protect her, though I guess for a few they didn’t like her showing any ‘weakness”? But the entire Reese/carter protectiveness seems to be some what of an issue. ( that’s why some people hated the Get Carter episode and Dead reckoning) I think because they got “in love” vibes from both of them in those episodes.
          It’s really bizzare idk… I should probably stop reading forums, the idiocy from the people on them is overwhelming.

          I wonder if the “people” who have this issue with it are WW. I have noticed in real life, that if a BW has ANYTHING some WW will act as if you snatched it away from them. And I do mean anything: a nice home, a nice car, a nice husband, a good job. It seems like, in their minds, only they or someone who looks like them (White) should have it. Extreme narcissism coupled with racism.

          This.

    • Scandal is one of the FEW examples of the American broadcast media doing a positive portrayal of a Black female character and as such, it is a shot across the bow of the twisted senibilities of anti-Black female racists, especially the 2 main ones, White women & Black males, so that explains all the baying & whining from them about this great show. Well I say they both need to go sit down somewhere and have tall glasses of shut up! The American & Black media caters to both of them 99% of the time and they can’t let Black women & girls have ONE positive character? Child PLEASE! Also, anyone who considers themselves TRULY non-racist/sexist should not even begin to take any complaints from those two groups about Olivia Pope or the show seriously. I can also sympathize & understand why Black women would want Olivia to tell her antagonists on the show off.

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention something. I stopped watching the Walking Dead after the first season’s finale, because the only BW on the show at that time (don’t know about now) decided to stay behind and get blown up, so that she would not become a “walker”. Only the Black guy made any attempt to talk her out of staying, and he was resigned to let her die in under 30 seconds of half-assed persuasion. The WW character, Andrea (easy to remember because that’s my name), also wanted to stay and die before she could be infected and turned. BUT at least two characters (don’t remember which ones) talked her into leaving with the others and were far more persuasive. So that was how they got rid of the Black woman from the first season.

    I should also mention that the BW was smart, in control of her emotions despite the horror all around her, could speak standard American English and was obviously from a middle-class/upper-middle-class background. She had to go! LOL.

    • Surprise surprise. Of course smart classy black woman gets killed off. otherwise she wouldn’t be smart and classy. I don’t watch the walking dead either. (I’ve seen less than one episode). But I remember reading some post about black women in fandoms and they were talking about the walking dead and mentioned that in the real comic the Michonne character got raped. And I certainly don’t want to see another mute, upset black woman on screen again. So I decided to bypass the show.

      • That’s not the only thing that changed from the comic. In the comic the BM who tried to get the BW to leave was a badass hero, but on the show he was a buffoon. So, the producers had no intention of letting any dark skinned character shine on that show. Usually, they’ll at least let a BM look fairly competent. Not on Walking Dead.

  4. Let me preface this by saying this is my personal viewpoint. Television is rarely neutral on any topic. There is always an agenda to be pushed, whether in a subtle manner or not. While we discuss the portrayals of black women here, white women are not exempt. While they are not vilified like black women they are targeted for other reasons. They are encouraged to be promiscuous, to have eating disorders, to sacrifice femininity for feminism, to be narcissistic etc. etc. I would not go into the messages targeted to men or children. Black women are denigrated so whites feel pleased (sort of like a distraction) while they feed on destructive messages. My point, television as a whole is bad, as it stands black women are wising up and taking notice about the impact these portrayals have on our psyche and advancement in certain areas. I wish we could speak to every black actress to be mindful but most are just looking for money. My solution, throw out the tv, if too extreme, pay for less cable, and fill your head with knowledge as well as pleasure with books (not trashy books). At the very least, you would be miles ahead of those persons (regardless of race) taking in all those negative and destructive messages and you’ll save money. You will also make money because you could channel all this knowledge to increase your income. This is my take on the whole situation. In the past, I would get very upset but now I just remove myself from the garbage. They don’t earn any of my money via, film, music, or premium cable. When I finally marry I will be pulling the plug altogether for myself and my children’s sake.

    • Sure, white women may have harmful stereotypes of themselves, But I won’t ( let’s not) kid ourselves into thinking that because of their privilege, they don’t come out #winning!. Because they DO. In fact in the past oh 100 years the MEDIA has been exactly what has helped white women, maintain their privilege over black women, starting with Gone With The Wind and even today with The Help. This argument is the same thing that people say about black men rappers ie. “don’t get too upset because they’re still being played by the white man”. I’m supposed to be distracted by the money, fame, respect, heck even women that these men have “access” to simply because their privilege ALLOWS them to work with the white man. And come on when we really take away the lens. That’s exactly what it is. There are far more white women benifiting from positive images rather than negative. And let’s not forget that when white women get there time to run networks they rarely give black women opportunities. ( HBO’s GIRLS anyone?) No. They firmly have their hand on the lock.

      yes i KNOW that television is horrible for everyone. But I am not talking about everyone I’m talking about BLACK WOMEN, because considering how black come up with nothing in this game, black women NEED to pay attention. Not becuase black women need to get angry. I don’t watch most of these shows, ( except for may two ) but the fans of the show constantly have these conversations about *why* the black women characters always come up short they are dissatisfied and can’t even place that there IS a stereotype going on. That’s what I’m here to point out in this article.

      This post is series so I was actually planned to write all about leaving cable behind or course. But how can anyone expect black women to give up television if they don’t even know WHY they should give it up.

  5. May I say, before I delve into my actual comment SS, that no one here cares how white women are portrayed. They are protected and revered and anything that they do not like as a group is taken into consideration and adjusted accordingly. I dont give one rip if they are coerced via TV or other mediums to have eating disorders or some other issues not relevant to me as a Black women with two Black parents.

    Enough! White women and their fake made up issues do not have to be broached everytime Black women discuss how they try to railroad our image. We are not handmaidens or mammies for white women.

    Anything going on that affects them, they as a group has co-signed it. They are non-entities. Is this clear? Good.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled RELEVANT topics of discussion.

    • You took the thoughts right out of my brain. Why can’t we ever discuss topics that affect us BW without someone trying to make it about everyone else too? That annoys the hell out of me! Don’t we get enough of that crap in everyday life?

    • Thank you Soul Alive for this comment.Luv Ya! Yes. Let’s not pretend black women aren’t also being pressured into eating disorders AND being relegated to second best simply because they are BLACK. White women have privilege simply because of race. They can protect themselves. And really it’s irrelevant on this blog.

  6. “Enough! White women and their fake made up issues do not have to be broached everytime Black women discuss how they try to railroad our image. We are not handmaidens or mammies for white women.”

    I am at no point trying to mammy for white women. If you fully understood my comment you would not have made such a specious statement. Black women do not control the media, and they certainly are not putting out enough material to counter the foolishness. The best we could do for now is too limit or completely stop supporting media that produces the filth. The images and messages spewing out from popular culture are harmful to all. For some in drips (like poison slowing working its way through the system) and for others in comes in torrents. My small point is that white women (who are the chief architects behind these terrible images of black women) are not escaping unscathed. They are simply unaware at the agenda targeted at them. We as black women are aware of the harm and can turn it off completely. That’s my whole point.

    “Anything going on that affects them, they as a group has co-signed it. They are non-entities. Is this clear? Good.”

    Yes, they have a seat at the table when it comes to the portrayal of non-black women but ultimately the media owners are a small oligarchy of men. A small cabal sets the overriding message to the public at large.

    • My small point is that white women (who are the chief architects behind these terrible images of black women) are not escaping unscathed.

      I do not know if I believe that they Are not aware that they are getting harmed plenty of people point out the harm of plenty of the media they support and usually they shrug it off or twist into some pseudo postive “feminism” thing. I don’t think they are innocent victims of the system or the unaware birds that Im supposed to believe. Sorry. A group of women couldn’t keep themsleves at the top ( even with privilege) without being shrewd enough to keep it.

      We as black women are aware of the harm and can turn it off completely. That’s my whole point.

      Yes I agree with this.

      In fact earlier this year I wrote about this exact topic.

      https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/bombarded-by-the-media-turn-it-off-2/

      But I keep reading about dissatisfied black women who aren’t able to pinpoint why they’re angry and why they SHOULD dump the television/media. THAT is what the point of this series is about. ( I haven’t gotten to that post yet)

    • With all due respect SS, you really should NOT be coming here and trying to shame or bowbeat Black women into shedding tears for and “aw poor babying” the supposed “problems” of White women, who are the most pampered, defended, looked out for, and priveleged group on the planet. Black women have EVERY right to talk about/expose the raciomisogny that THEY & THEY ONLY have to face in this world and to have a space that is ONLY about THEM, without people trying to make it about White women, Black males or anyone else!

  7. Black women used to be the EEOC, an all inclusive resort and the UN all rolled into one. Not anymore!

    WW not only have a seat , but as blackfemaleculture states, they own (run) the whole damn table and all the food placed on it. Specious statement my ass.

    Just because BW do not own the media that is no reason to not hold those who do damage to us accountable and call them out for the cretins that they are. Many groups of people benefit from a diminshed image of BW, but the two groups who benefit the most are ww and Black males.

    Divesting and not watching is effective (as the latest Tyler Perry flop proves). However, that is not enough.We must and we do challenge them when they do us a disservice via our image. Sometimes thats as simple as calling a spade a spade and pointing out the obvious. This puts them on notice that we are not fooled and that no, we dont agree with this portrayal.

    You are trying to throw us off by using the same ole “well they do it to everyone else” defense. Iont care. Caring about what they do to everyone else except for us BW has BW scrambling to repair years of damage as it stands now.

    I wont entertain anyone or any argument that makes mention of how other groups are treated to pacify any argument about how BW have to be vigilant and demand fair representation.

    • Soul Alive EXACTLY & THANK YOU! Kudos to you for taking this latest attempt at gaslighting completly apart and exposing it for the anti-Black female tripe that it is! These people do this garbage EVERY TIME sistas want to get together and discuss anti-Black female racism/abuse. It needs to be STOPPED and put on BLAST, just like you did, in your excellent, razor-sharp replies! Again I say KUDOS to you!

  8. I love and appreciate you right back! I think there is one that may be a combination of another. Maybe this is like mother, maybe it isnt but theres also the “sage”

    Like an old or older Black lady who knows everything and is always doling out advice. She has a kind word and candy and a lifetimes of experiences, that no one ever asks her about specifically. Just enough to help out the wayward white character. Like Sassy Sensei.

    • Lol Sassy Sensei! Soul Alive, you had me cracking up at that one! You’re definitely write the mother can definitely be sassy that makes her all the more laughable because all of her advice is pretty much delivered in humorous lines. somewhat like madea but without the violence?

  9. OLS I am once again very, very impressed by your insight on anti-Black female racism. This was an excellent essay about how toxic American broadcast/graphic print media has been on the pysche of Black women & girls with these blatantly racist fool portrayals. What makes it even worse is that Black women & girls do NOT have a positive media made by their own MEN to counteract this mess as the Black media as we all know is just as hostile to Black women & girls as the White one, if not more so, taking into account just how much Black males hate Black women & girls. I would just like to add one aside about Florence from The Jeffersons, as I often see her being used as an example of a “hostile”/
    “angry” Black women (as if Black women have nothing to be hostile or angry about, please, they most certainly DO!)With her sassiness,Florence was usually only defending herself from George Jefferson’s frequent attacks on her about her looks, single status, work ethic, etc. Florence was usually very nice with everyone else, and as can be verified by anyone who was a reguler viewer of the show, was really a very sweet, caring person.

    everyone else, ana

  10. And don’t forget Susie Carmichael, I remember when someone pointed out to me that she is the only toddler on rugrats without parents! I remember my first experience with racism was when I’d watch dosney channel, and all the black girls were sassy, and I felt so bad…because I couldn’t live up to that. Then there was my brother, who knew I was sensitive so anytime I’d say no to him or disagreed, he’d bring up that I had attitude or was mean. Even though I tried extra hard to come of as nicer than I already was, so I wouldn’t think I was mean. I was really gullible, huh?!
    Another point, I’d like to make. It’s a personal question though…um, I’m only 16, but anywho…you said your brother used to tell you not to date white guys even though he prefers light skin.
    Well, when I was really young before or around kindergarten age my brother used to make fun of me and tell me I was going to marry a white guy, especially a nerdy one. Because I was uncool. I knew what he meant because I’d seen other blacks call people white to say they were uncool. So I sought out to only date black or just plain darker guys after that. Now I feel like a fool, because its so stupid to think you can tell someone who to date. And I think it’s part of the reason you don’t hear much about wmbw relationships even though there a lot in Hollywood, it’s because the other side has been told that they shouldn’t like them or that bw/wm weren’t attracted to bw/wm. I tried so hard to fit in with them, and be black enough (stereotype-wise), by doing that. Even though I went to a school with more Indian, Brazilian, middle eastern type of guys instead of black. Then I saw all these older women saying they only dated blck guys so I fell into the trap.my first crush was some blonde boy in kg, but after hearing my brother I felt ashamed for it, but I go to really multicultural schools, I should be looking for someone who suits me regardless of race! I’m from CANADA btw.
    My parents took me to Nigeria for three years( i came back tho) and my mother said to an employee “We brought her to Nigeria so she won’t marry a white man” she laughed about it but she was being serious. And it’s like WHY DONT THEY SAY THIS TO BLACK MEN , it’s always the women they seem to want to tell who to date. Anyway there was this very light skinned Pakistani guy (very popular, all the girls liked him yadda yadda) that liked me in my old school, my brother found out, and he gives me this look like “why? Would you even think about a non black man” and asks me “what’s wrong with me?” And preceded to call him some Indian name Valovan (with an Indian accent, incorrect spelling tho). And say that I like terrorists etc. and why do I like talking to such. Even though it was the boy who liked me first, I was literally the only black girl of two in that school with an average of 30 students in my each class. All the indian guys were dating the few white girls, and ive senn this even in the international school i go to Now. a lot of the mexican, northern african, middle eastern guys go for blondes when they first come here, cuzthey think theyre easy. Was I supposed to cry in a corner, about not finding a black guy. The only black guy I saw there, I knew from another school and I didn’t like him. Is it by force i should love him? loool I’ve like all races of guys, literally, I’ve had crushes on ALLL RACES of GUYS.
    Then I started to realize that my brother started bring his girlfriends home to meet us, and they were all MULTIRACIAL/BIRACIAL girls, his last three girlfriends. Why now did he start bring them home? No matter, he treats them all like crap even though… I don’t get why people care about black guys preferring light skin, because if he doesn’t know HOW TO TREAT A WOMAN, he’ll end up doing the same horrid things to her. And it makes me wonder, because with his new girlfriend, they act so happy on fb with all there cutie pictures, until my mom told me he’s always yelling at her. I just came home from boarding school and he’s there yelling at her to “go f herself!” And she’s even buying him clothes in stuff and he threatened to throw it in the trash, and just disrespecting her. But when there out in public, he treats her like prize, I feel sorry for them.
    Because I know this how my brother ruined my confidence growing up, insulting me before I was in kindergarten and laughing when I cried, and my mom wasn’t listening she thought I was just sensitive and the stupid “STICKS AND STONES SPEECH!” Sorry for writing so much, but can YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS TYPE OF HYPRICROSY? I’ve finally figured out his HYPRICROSY, I no longer believe him, I’m just asking for your opinion??

    • Hi! *Waves*

      Thanks for commenting.
      First of let me say that I remember Susie from rugrats and she did have parents. From what I remember she had an entire family with brothers and sisters. In fact I remember they did an entire family with her parents and older sisters and brothers and grandparents. So whoever pointed that out to you lied. lol

      Anywhoo, seeing as your comment will require my answer to be long I will create a separate post.
      Do you mind if I quote your comment in my post?

  11. I would say that Detective Jocelyn “Joss” Carter goes beyond the ‘Tough, Rough and Tumble’ characterization. Although her love interest during Season 2 did not focus much on the romantic aspect, he and their on-off relationship was shown over the course of 6 episodes, and the other characters acknowledged the relationship in a positive way.

    Also, Carter is attractive, but I agree that her looks are played down a lot on “Person of Interest”, but the show has let her flaunt them a few times.

    She’s allowed to be portrayed as vulnerable, AND the main male characters are protective of her safety and value her opinions.

    Some of the “Person of Interest” fandom dislikes her, though, because of these traits.

    • That’s exactly why I placed her in the category, is because despite the writers attempts to make her three dimensional, there are many who are doing their darndest to put her in the category anyway and it is mostly coming back from the audience.

        • Wow just like clockwork I can’t wait to read your commentary because I just saw the CBS promo revealing that Ms. Henson’s character has been killed off and I immediately thought of this post in particular. You and others have called it!!! Heard all before….the old bait and switch. Got the viewership up then it’s see ya wouldn’t want to be ya. Thanks you OLS. Please continue the good work.

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  13. I don’t watch most of the shows listed here. Even so, I thought you were right on the money with a lot of it. We have to be mindful of how we’re being portrayed because we’ll never be protected the way white women will. Yes, they have unrealistic images flouted in front of them daily, but we get those same images. Even if we tried to conform to the waifish body type, our skin would still disqualify us from that standard. It’s so tired.

    RE: Gus from Psych — I do take your point, because he’s nowhere as developed as the lead, but neither are the other supporting characters (excepting the lead female character who is now dating the lead). There have been a few times that Gus’s family has been portrayed. Phylicia Rashad, Ernie Hudson, Keith David, and John Amos played his family; Kerry Washington played his ex-wife.

  14. I think this is a very good article. I especially agreed with the “invisible” woman. This is something that I am seeing a lot of on TV today.

    I am an old fart who doesn’t watch a lot of network TV; but the little I do watch, I have noticed that black women, brown skinned black women are being erased from primetime TV.

    I watched a show last season called “Chicago Fire” and thought it was curious that the character of Dawson, played by Monica Raymond, was Latina. The fact this character was Latina really didn’t play into the show except in one episode. So I wondered why couldn’t the character have been black? Then the reason became clear to me. Dawson was infatuated with the main character in the show, a white male, and then she began a relationship with another male on the show, a lighter skinned black man. Had she been a brown skinned black woman, the network would NEVER have had her attracted to a white, male character, for fear of upsetting black men and white women.

    Something to think about.

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  17. I have seen that Gus character too many times. Why doesn’t Guy have his parents or siblings visit him once in awhile?

  18. I’m a little late seeing this. But thank you!!! Someone has to say this. I just can’t partake in television shows that rarely entertain an endearing positive black female protagonist. The black woman is rarely portrayed as the “ingenue” (in other words, the innocent and beautiful girl with a moving story). Hollywood consistently throws shade to black women as if we don’t exist. Like this article states, we do have a place in their world. Unless its to serve others or simply to be an annoyance with no relevant back story in comparison to white leads.

    The real problem is there are not enough black female script writers in Hollywood. Which is a another obstacle to overcome. The majority of Hollywood executives and decision makers are mostly white males, whom control the media and what should be produced and fed to the public.
    Yes white women are starting to fill these roles, but that has not changed a GD thing. Most are only interested in telling their story on how it benefits them.

    For example, it is well known that white feminists never really cared about the “women of color” and their plight for equality. They are complete hypocrites and somewhat delusional. They want equality and power as their white predecessors, but deny the same access to the black woman. BW need to start caring for themselves and become less concerned with “fitting in” their world. It’s necessary that BW start creating their own stories, ones that are genuine and not stereotypical to the ideas of what others “think” we are suppose to be. Unfortunately, American television has not reached that point yet.

  19. Just for the record … Gus on Psych had a mom (played by Phylicia Rashad) & a father (I don’t know the actor who played him) as well as a sister (I don’t know who played her) … I’m not good at remembering names, sorry. But apparently, Sean (the so-called psychic friend) dated or tried to date the sister at one point … and also in a couple flashbacks. Gus was the one with the real job (although I have no idea how he managed to hang on to it since he rarely seemed to work) and the education. Sean was the clown who seemed to always manage to get Gus to follow along with his antics.

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