Tag Archives: what not to do

Who’s Mad At Brian White?

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

 

 

Years to Remember

Tomorrow is the day. The day my eighteen year old son graduates from high school and prepares to go to college in the fall. I knew this day was coming. I had eighteen years to prepare myself for this. But I didn’t know it would feel like this. I raised him to have leadership abilities and a mind of his own. He’s always had more freedom and responsibility than a lot of young men he knows. No curfews, but he never has stayed out too late. No restrictions, but he’s never been anywhere he shouldn’t be. He’s had every opportunity afforded to him that I could financially afford, and some that I made sacrifices for so that he could have the experiences anyway. He’s been able to travel a little bit, but I often wish there were more places I had been able to take him over the years. He’s never caused me any “trouble”. He hasn’t had any incidences that would have resulted in jail time; he’s never tried narcotics and decided on his own to remain abstinent for the time being. All things that I’ve had very frank discussions with him about but allowed him to also make his own decisions about. Needless to say, I’m proud of the decisions he made for himself. I’ve never had to come up with bail money, nurse a hangover or potential overdose and I’m not a grandmother at thirty-six years old.  

There were many people who constantly said that I didn’t know what my child was doing when I wasn’t around because “single mothers never do and they always think ‘not my child’ and their child is the first one in trouble”. I’m glad I can gloat and tell those people that they obviously didn’t know my child. They also obviously didn’t know me. I’m that young mother that believes in old school discipline. Although my son hasn’t had a spanking since he was seven years old, he has a very healthy fear of his mother. He knows the expectations are great and measureable as my son. He knows that major disappointments are not taken lightly and that failure is not an option. It has been instilled in him.

One thing I always tried to teach my son was that he didn’t have to personally make mistakes to still learn from them. Life is a teacher and when you look at other people’s lives, you can learn what not to do, if you want to. My son understood this it seems because he often tells me that he is going to try not to make certain mistakes in his life because he saw what it did to someone else. I’m not sure if my son has a celebrity “role model”. After all, so many of them don’t want to be “role models”. But I think a few of their experiences have educated my son as a young black man as to how this world will treat you if you are not careful. One moment they love you and place you on the highest pedestal because you are scoring touchdowns and three point shots. The next minute they are persecuting you, taking away your endorsement deals and dragging your reputation through the deepest puddle of mud that can be found. So thank you to Kobe Bryant, Michael Vick and countless others who showed my son what not to do.

My son hasn’t had the best relationship with his father, due to no fault of his own, or of mine. You can’t force someone to love you, support you and exemplify what you think a parent should be. All you can do, is do better when your chance comes around. I never spoke ill of my son’s father to him. I didn’t have to. It wasn’t going to benefit me in anyway to do so. It wasn’t going to improve the situation at all. So I was very mindful not to engage in those kinds of conversations or confrontations in my son’s presence. It didn’t always work, because his father likes drama and enjoys being the center of attention, even when it’s negative. But I did manage to be the bigger person 95% of the time, even when I didn’t want to be. As a result, my son learned for himself, without any influence from me, the type of man his father is, and isn’t. I intentionally removed myself from the equation so that I could not be blamed (by his father) for how my son feels towards him. Whether his father sees it that way, I do not know. I honestly do not care.

After eighteen years of many sacrifices on my part, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I gave up my goals for higher education. I gave up a modeling career. I gave up a size six body. I gave up many, many, many, many men. I gave up countless hopes and dreams of traveling around the world, sipping champagne and buying designer handbags. I gave up eighteen years of many other things so that I could nurture the life of another person. There were times during those eighteen years when the thought of what I could’ve had caused me to become very depressed, so much so that I was even hospitalized for depression at one time. I suffered from and recovered from a chronic illness. I’ve had major car accidents that I was blessed to walk away alive from. I’ve lost good jobs, had crap jobs and got better jobs. With every hardship and loss, my motivation was that I had to continue on for my son. I had to show him that although life knocks you down, repeatedly, you have to get back up and keep living. I had to show him what it was to be super. And in the process, I showed myself.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when my son leaves for college. What do you do when your best friend, your anchor, your reason for persevering daily goes away to explore the next phase of his own life? I don’t know. This is my first time having this experience. Hopefully, between now and then my career will catapult forward to the point where I’ll have my own radio show, a couple more books published along with the opportunity and finances to travel. Maybe I’ll even meet my Superman. I don’t know what will happen next. What I do know is that tomorrow signifies a new phase in life for me and my son. When the sun rises in the morning, it will mean one thing to him and something else to me. When the sun sets in the evening the same will also be true. And I promise that I will try not to cry all day.

I had many years to remember with my son. Eighteen years and nine months to be exact. That’s a lengthy investment. Now it’s his turn to go forth and be super. He can do it. I have the utmost belief in him. After all, he is Super Son.