Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Question of the day: Is the media obssessed with how ‘messed up’ black women...


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via bglhonline.com by Black Girl With Long Hair on 11/23/09

The recent release of the film "Precious" — about a dark-skinned, overweight, illiterate, sexually abused New York teen who discovers that she is HIV positive — has sparked a lot of discussion in the black community.

Some people (including myself) are glad to see the issue of abuse being spotlighted by the media. Others, including top film critic Armond White, who is black, aren't so sure.

"Black pathology sells," he said in a recent NY times article.

Well, I don't know that it sells. (Last I heard, Chris Rocks' Good Hair wasn't doing so hot at the box office.)

But I have seen a pattern of mainstream media fascination with issues that plague black people in general, and black women in particular.

I was once styling my hair in the bathroom when my roommate (who is white and a huge fan of the Tyra Show) passed by the open door. Without missing a beat she said, "I would probably be worried about my hair too if it grew slow."

"Like mine?" I asked.

I didn't take offense. It's a fair statement from someone whose education on black female culture is derived solely from the Tyra Show. But it was troubling. After telling her that rate of hair growth is fairly similar across ethnicities (with some studies showing black hair growing a tad slower), I also felt a need to tell her that, according to the General Social Survey, black women are happier than other American women despite the fact that they face disproportionate challenges.

But you won't see a New York Times article on that.

So, from Precious, to Good Hair, to the Shaniya Davis tragedy, to Madea, do you think that the media is obsessed with black women's pathologies?

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1 comment:

ms. bliss honeycomb said...

hm...yes, i think there is an element of obsession. whenever a group is "othered" the mainstream response tends to be either imitation/glorification or this weird thing about trying to understand "why they're so screwed up."

neither requires any examination of the mainstream's hand in creating and/or maintaining the dysfunction...just allows them to look at it and take what they want from it.

i agree that "precious" is necessary, but it wouldn't be as much of a sore spot for folks if there were, say, black romantic comedies and thrillers to balance it out.