Star Jones, Terry McMillan, Spike Lee’s Wife Hate Reality Shows’ Impact on Black Women

Star Jones, Terry McMillan, Spike Lee’s Wife Hate Reality Shows' Impact on Black Women
Tanya Lewis Lee, Terry McMillan and Star Jones

SAN FRANCISCO – Star Jones was disheartened by her experience on “Celebrity Apprentice” and the impact it had on young African American women. Best-selling author Terry McMillan told the multitude at the 100 Black Men of America convention that she can’t stand to watch the gag-inducing histrionics and theatrics that make a mockery of African American culture. Spike Lee’s wife, Tanya, a bestselling author and philanthropist, called reality TV and the media’s portrayal of young black kids a literal “crime.”

At the “Women of Influence: Sisterhood Revisited” session at the 100 Black Men of America’s 25th anniversary and convention, participants discussed a number of radical topics pertinent to black women. Star Jones, despite being proud of raising $350,000 for heart disease research, cringes at every thought of how she and other black women were made to look on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

“What I didn’t want to see is all black women [on the show] put into a particular category, but I knew it was coming. It became ignorance personified. This is doing a disservice for young African American women,” Jones said as the overflowing audience roared with applause. “To behave in a manner that is unprofessional and to think that you, too, could behave that way in corporate America is to not live in reality,” Jones added as a not-so-subtle jab at reality TV star NeNe Leakes. “You cannot go to FedEx, UPS, to the federal government or anywhere else and show your behind and keep your job.”

“I don’t watch reality TV,” McMillan, the New York Times No. 1 best-selling author of Waiting to Exhale, said bluntly. “I think that it’s unfortunate that young people aspire to be like what they see on reality TV. They think the only way to measure success is popularity and how many people accept them and, in doing so, they are willing to go overboard.” She continued, “My son, [who is] 27 now, graduated from Stanford and lives in Memphis. I’m very proud of him, and I taught him to measure success from his own yardstick and not his mother’s or anyone else’s. It is not about what luxury car you drive or how much money you make. With the Kardashians and all [those TV shows], it has led children, who don’t have any real values, to seek these [material possessions and fame] for acceptance.”

Tonya Lewis Lee, also a bestselling author who speaks to young middle school, high school and college-aged students across the country said, “I think it’s a crime, and young people get such a bad rap. I think it’s such a shame that in TV and media, particularly of the portrayal of young people, that’s not steeped in reality. The country thinks all young people are out there wilding out, and that’s not true,” she said to thunderous applause. “There are some wonderful young people out there who are doing great things and who care about their community, and we really don’t get a chance to see it.”
–terry shropshire
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