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Who will fight the negative images of black women in the media?

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Words by: A.R. Shaw

Images by: DeWayne Rogers

Model: Demi Grace

Makeup: Marissa Ross

The black female image is in trouble. If you rely solely on media to depict what it means to be a black woman in 2014, it’s highly likely that the takeaway would be overwhelmingly negative.

But things haven’t always been this way. So, the most daunting question is; where did we go wrong?

Music, reality TV and social media have all played an intricate role in portraying the black woman in a negative light. We can’t ignore the lyrics that often degrade black women who are only viewed in terms of being sexual conquests or unworthy of having committed, respectful relationships. Tragically, there are also black female artists who perpetuate the same negativity by debasing themselves and other women through their music.

On any given night, you can find the worst black female stereotypes on reality TV. The top reality TV shows feature black women who argue with one another, physically fight, become intoxicated, are promiscuous, and are proud gold diggers. Black women attach themselves to these degrading roles all for the sake of ratings and money. Unfortunately, black women will continue to portray these images as long as millions indulge in viewing all the drama.

Thankfully, there are alternatives to the madness.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we take a look at black women who have gained and maintained prominence through positive means. These are the women who will fight the negative images of black women in the media.

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12 Comments

  1. Arbitr^rY^[email protected] on March 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    get black women to stop supporting reality show…first step

  2. [email protected] on March 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    There are many many negative images portrayed by Euro-American women on TV and reality shows too, but somehow no one thinks that ALL ‘White’ women are that way. But when there are negative personalities among some Afr-Amer women, somehow people want to think that ALL ‘Black’ women act that way…hmmm why is that?

    • Anzaloqq on March 13, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      Pretty simple really. White women are shown with other dimensions are much more frequently than black women. For every ‘reality’ show white woman there are 3 or 4 more white women on TV with positive or respectable presence. With black women the most positive we get are flawed professional women like Olivia Pope or Mary Jane.

  3. Paytc on March 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    My suggestion is to redirect one’s focus away from that which does not empower or serve a productive purpose. The media for the most part has it’s own agenda. I recommend buying into positive uplifting books and music such as my newly released audio-book ” Win anyway ” available at amazon.com. This is your life… Take ownership and control of it.

  4. Janice L. Mathis on March 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I am risking sacrilege. Ms. B is no role model.

  5. Janice L. Mathis on March 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Bravo needs a dose of the same medicine activists gave BET nearly a decade ago.

  6. TW on March 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t agree with four of the women in which you displayed as role models, and I won’t name names. 4 of them are actually either writing the stereo-types or acting it out, further perpetuating the negative stereo-types of black women. Lets be honest, its doing more harm than good and you can make like its “right” just because you like viewing it and or its popular, but it just sets us back to the times of slavery where ultimately, nothing has changed. Good enough to bed, but not good enough to wed. This does not put the African-American woman in a good light, it only taints the progress that we’ve actually made.

  7. linda on March 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Beyoncé really take beyonce of the list and your list will be much better

  8. berries on March 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Yes, black women need to boycott these disgusting reality shows that do absolutely nothing but perpetuate negative stereotypes. I feel appalled whenever I walk out of my room and see my mother watching these horrendous “____ wives” reality shows. They need to stop! WE NEED TO STOP THEM!

    On another note, I agree with those who say that Beyonce is not a role model. You’re absolutely right! She is an entertainer, and it is not apart of her job description to play parent/hero to other people’s children. She’s doing her job, and role-model IS NOT her job, so please stop bashing her, and any other black female celebrity that has a risque gimmick. If you actually purchased/allowed your child to purchase the beyonce album and watch her videos, then that makes YOU the bad role-model.

    STOP DESIGNATING ENTERTAINERS AS ROLE MODELS, then get mad when they do something sexual or risque that was intended for adults in the first place!

  9. felicia jones on April 15, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I think we need more diversity in the media of black women. There are black women who like nene however there are some who are married .

  10. Shelly on October 29, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I am not an African American, but I am a Latina American. We do not face the same challenges as shared by our AA sisters, we have similar issues however. Social media casts us as the maid. Apparently to America we cannot do much more than cook for white people and clean their toilets. Our men cut their grass. We cannot have good credit, we cannot own our own homes, and we live in the barrio. But as your wonderful article said, we have to take this into our own hands by getting our education and showing them who we are in the board room. Never allow the media to get you down. You are wonderful, inspiring, and intelligent…and strong!!