Turn on the Television. While you are scanning through channels with the remote, chances are you will catch a glimpse of either a television show depicting
Black American women misbehaving or taking off their clothes. You may get lucky and witness both actions occurring simultaneously. If you have ever watched popular Black American movies and television shows such as Waiting to Exhale, Girlfriends, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Game, or Player’s Club than I need no further illustration of the vivid scenes portrayed in these media programs.
However for those that have not witnessed such programming, I will sum them up in a couple of words: licentious, provocative, melodramatic, controversial but above all, ignorant.
Media portrayal of black women and the opinions held by other racial groups about black women and their male counterparts alike have inspired this comprehensive list of the five most common (negative) stereotypes of black women in America.
1.) Black women are overtly promiscuous beings that crave sex
The first stereotype was strategically chosen as numero uno as a growing number of Black American men and African men have begun to view their women in this light. I have justifiably used the word ‘their’ as its possessive property insinuates that Black American women in America are the counterparts of not only Black American (‘Akata’) men but also African men as well. One of the major factors in African men over-sexualizing Black American women is the lack of identity and therefore, estrangement of the Black American woman. African men have a tendency to treat African-born women with greater respect when it comes to their femininity and sexuality. Such treatment is derived from the high-esteem in which African men hold their mothers and sisters in and commonly liken other African women to. This is contrary to their views about Black American women being ‘loose, cheap and easy’- an opinion supported by media portrayals of Black American women as exotic dancers, prostitutes, or happily-single promiscuous ladies.
2.) Black women are assertive beings with bad attitudes
All the neck-snapping in the world cannot persuade an individual knowledgeable enough about Black culture to conclude that ALL black women are overly assertive and aggressive creatures with nasty attitudes. Just as Whites, Latinos, Asians and Africans, Black American women are products of their environment. If they are raised by kind parents, they can become products of kindness and warmth with positive, loving attitudes. A poor attitude in not a chronic condition which all black women must succumb to.
3.) Black women are bonafide ‘Golddiggers’
In the United States, it is very often that the few black women who do end up with ambitious, affluent men are referred to as ‘golddiggers’. A golddigger is a pejorative term for a woman thought to gain interest in any man, whether young or old, who can benefit her financially. A black woman who is fortunate enough to maintain a relationship with a successful man is demonized for doing so while women of other cultures and races openly admit to ‘ searching for a man who can provide.’
4.) Black women never get married
Ironically enough, shows like The Real housewives of Atlanta falsely advertise the content of their programming through the use of the word ‘housewives’. While the majority of the female cast of the television show are divorcees or soon to obtain that title. The sad reality is that many successful, beautiful black women remain unmarried even though they continue the voyage towards finding Mr. Right. Based on the low statistics of marriage in Black America, it is the duty of entertainment to produce inspiring programs which uphold the institution of marriage in the Black community void of perpetuating the stereotype of the ‘forever single Black American woman’.
5.) Black women are destined to play the ‘Baby Mama’ role
Last but not least of the stereotypes. Added to the plight of the Black American woman is the high probability of bearing children outside of matrimony. Although western society no longer frowns upon such a scenario as it once did, there are still many societal implications to our modern-day definition of the nuclear family. The disconcerting thing about the ‘baby mama’ title is that the major misconception is that these Black American women were somehow underserving of the more gracious title of ‘wife.’ I believe that this is a grave fallacy plaguing the Black community. Nonetheless, this stereotype is apparent almost every single day particularly among teen mothers.
Our discussion about the five most common stereotypes is merely the beginning of a dialogue that we must engage in with members of the Black American and African communities. The greatest travesty is that these images depicting Black American women being anything less than beautiful descendants of our own African heritage is something that is widespread across continents thanks to mainstream media and entertainment. Disturbingly enough, I have even started to see some of these stereotypes about Black American women being glamourized among iconic figures in Nollywood films. In the very least, we should deter these stereotypes from becoming commonplace in our homes and begin to counter western media images by depicting both Black American and African women as paragons of beauty as well as women of high-esteem and integrity. Let us always remember to praise the accomplishments of ambitious black women who have shown us that women are competent, capable beings and avoid negative categorization of all women particularly our own sisters.
Source: C. C. Wonders (PSN).