I follow actor Brian White’s career as a fan and on Twitter. Early in February 2012 he did an interview with Shamika Sanders of Hello Beautiful, during which she asked Brian why he thinks people hate Tyler Perry. His reply was, “Because Tyler holds a mirror up to people. Stereotypes are not stereotypes today. The most popular character [in, Why Did I Get Married?], and it’s not the one that Tyler picked as the most popular, is Tasha!” What he said is completely true. But, Shamika Sanders decided to call her article, “Does Brian White Hate Black Women or Is He Spot On? EXCLUSIVE”.
Does anyone else see what I see or is everyone going to side with Shamika on this?
Shamika was supposed to interview Brian about his upcoming movie projects. She asked him a question. He gave an honest answer and backed it up with several examples to support his point of view and at no time did this man say anything about hating black women. What in fact Brian White said, to sum it up in my own words, is that black AMERICA in general gravitates towards the more negative and stereotypical portrayals of ourselves (both men and women) in television and in movies, instead of looking at the more positive, learning the lessons filmmakers like Tyler Perry are trying to teach us, and appreciating the quality projects that are put out that portray us positively.
Did you understand that?
Brian’s reply got turned into a one black man versus all the black women in the world debate by Shamika Sanders. Maybe it was not her intention to do so. Maybe she doesn’t write well. Maybe she was unable to convey what Brian was saying using the written word. Maybe she doesn’t understand responsible journalism. Maybe she forgot what her interview was supposed to really be about. Maybe she was personally offended by what Brian White said and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to take his words out of context, pour gasoline on them and light them on fire to boost her own career. Anything is possible.
I agree in large part with a lot of what Brian said in his interview, although it was skewed to be more negative than he intended it to be. He touched on how black women behave on reality shows and therefore are also portrayed as characters in movies. However, we complain about being stereotyped when WE are the ones watching and supporting the shows and behaving in the same manner. I admit I watch Love & Hip Hop and RHOA, along with a few other reality shows. Part of it is entertainment and part of it is research for me as a writer (and a woman) for ‘what not to do’. The reality shows starring black women aren’t any different from reality shows starring white women. White women fight on television, too. But it’s often handled with a different approach by the media. It’s also handled with a different approach by their peers. In black AMERICA we constantly criticize, scrutinize, disrespect, and demean each other, then turn around and do the exact same thing we were mad about someone else doing. What do I mean by that? Women get upset with Mona Scott Young for being the brains behind Love & Hip Hop because Chrissy Lampkin acts a fool, fights and argues constantly on the show, but those same black women are trying to get on reality shows themselves; and not in an effort to change the way we’re portrayed in the process. They want to be famous, just like Chrissy…or Kim Kardashian, or whomever they idolize that particular week. They think that reality television will be their in into acting or fame because going to acting school or developing a talent takes too long. Often for black women, reality televisions shows only end up as their way into a men’s magazine…bent over. But the white women who participate in reality shows receive spin offs and offers for Dancing With The Stars. But, I digress.
Maybe Brian White needs more media training to learn how to phrase his opinions differently so that sensitive people who can’t digest the absolute truth won’t get offended. But at the same time, the fact that some black women are actually angry about what he said astounds me completely. It speaks to the misconceptions we have about how other people look at us when we’re on television and on movie screens. It speaks to the fact that we allow ourselves to have lower standards of ourselves in television and movies than we should (Brian would like us to support quality work, period). It also speaks to the fact that we (black women) can take the most genuine comment in support of Tyler Perry and make it all about us for absolutely no reason.
I’m not mad at Brian White at all. He said what he meant and he stood behind his convictions without apology. Maybe if more of us did the same thing, we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves or each other as much as we do on television in the first place.
◊ When you know better, you do better.
∞ Support the I Feel Good: Mind, Body & Soul Women’s Conference in Detroit, MI so that young black women know that they don’t have to be on reality television to make something of themselves in this world. www.ifeelgoodmbs.com