Television leaves healthy Black marriages out of the picture

Written by admin   // September 22, 2011   // 0 Comments

Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable, Phylicia Rashad as Clair Hanks Huxtable (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images)

Camping, rugby, and well, Sarah Silverman. These, at least according to a now
infamous list, are a few things white people like. New Balance shoes,
parental hatred and yoga made the top 100 too.

Which is funny, only because I could never really figure out why I kept
skipping the classes I eagerly signed up for. And well, I’m certain
that if I even thought about hating my mother she’d whack me in the
head with a Bolo-bat.

Number 116 is “black music black people don’t listen to anymore”.
And that fully explains #69: Mos Def. Or Yasiin, as he prefers to be
called these days.

White people also seem to be enamored with marriage. Although that age-old
social institution didn’t make the list, a recent study in the new
book “Is Marriage for White People?” lays out the case.

Over the last 50 years, African Americans have become “the most
unmarried people in our nation” says the book’s promotional
material. “[Black women] are more than twice as likely as white
women to never marry.”

“The shortage of successful black men not only leaves black women
unmarried, it renders them more likely than other women to marry less
educated and lower earning men.”

The solution? Marry a white man, of course.

I suppose if I actually believed author and Stanford Law professor
Ralph Richard Banks, I’d be ready to hurl myself over a bridge. Not
that interracial marriage is necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve been there and I’ve got incredible children (and a lifelong friend to
show for it). Drowning in a river of grief, I may never gone back for
a second chance, found the love of my life and grown my family to a
party most disturbs me.

What’s wrong, anyway, with marrying someone who earns less money or didn’t
go to B-school? Mr. Right might be an artist, an entrepreneur or run
a non-profit.

Heaven forbid he turn out to be a schoolteacher, police officer or social
worker. Nothing about a six-figured salary guarantees a happy,
sustainable marriage. Besides, the shoe has been on the other foot
for centuries. Men marry women of lesser income every day. Banks,
learned as he may be, misses the real point. Marriage, like good
parenting, is handed down like baseball and chili recipes.

Negotiating the waters of healthy relationships and marriage is a learned
skilled.

Its relative strength and durability is held in something as basic as
mimicry. We do what we see.

In 2007, I conducted a study on behalf of my then client Procter &
Gamble.

The P&G/Essence poll showed that 77 percent of African-American women
believed they were more negatively portrayed in popular culture than
any other race or gender. It was rare, they said, that black women
were reflected — particularly in music, film and television – in
healthy, balanced relationships. And black men were fairing no
better.

On screen, they are hapless street urchins — abusing the women who
loved them, abandoning the children who needed them.

Generally speaking, aside from The Cosby Show, black people have a difficult
time pointing to widely distributed, positive reflections of black
life. Our “condition”, as it were, is too often housed the
dilapidated, drug infused, bullet-riddled construct of Hollywood’s
fertile imagination.

Before you discount the power of what we watch or listen to. Remember, the
soundtrack of the 1950s and 60s helped to fuel the civil rights
movement and that the counterculture films of the 60s helped end
wars, change social mores and advance human rights.

All we are saying is give peace a chance… Remember the power of Black
radio to impact the public discourse and incite change?

Mother, mother…

So-called reality television, with its not so real housewives and the near
weekly hyper-sexualized slugfests, is candidly damaging. Not only for
the way it advances cruel and vicious stereotypes, but the insidious
way in which it infects and affects the way we see ourselves.
Hollywood doesn’t get all of the blame.

Just like the local dope boys around the way, they understand something
about demand. They make what they know we’ll watch. Sadly, this
season’s network television lineup promises no reprieve and the news
coverage surrounding Professor Banks’ somewhat less than profound
book is near deafening.

But, complaints about what newsrooms choose to cover or ignore, as well as
what entertainment industry chooses to green light, wear old when we
keep tuning in, clicking and downloading. We can expect nothing to
change about that until we change.

For the record, I am not offended by Professor Banks presentation of
statistics.

The gender, academic and economic imbalances are evident and clear. It’s
his analysis of root cause and solution that I find so troubling. If
it’s any consolation, at least he didn’t call me “angry.”
Because you know there’s nothing Black women like more than being
angry.


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