So…some of you black people got Sorority Sisters off the air. I see. For those that have not been paying attention to the blogosphere or Tom Joyner, VH1’s latest reality television hit was boycott and slammed by Historically Black Fraternities/Sororities (BGLOs), causing the network to unceremoniously drop the series.
I am going to look at both sides, critically. Here are some reasons why the cancellation is annoying.
The rest of Black America cares less about ratchet television. Remember when Living Single and the Game were cancelled? Black America unified and put those shows back on air. Living Single was back on air for one more season with the help of black radio, without the existence of social media. Today, if there is no historically black institution leading the charge, there’s little to no action against television shows that depict Black people in a negative light. It’s saddening and speaks to the need of give a damn-ness when it comes to holding the media accountable. The airwaves belong to the people after all (eventhough cable networks have been able to get around that concept).
NPHC and other powerful black institutions only care about shows that affect their brand, which exudes self righteousness, self importance, hypocrisy and respectability. Networks have broadcast shows like Flavor of Love–which is the father of all ratchet reality television shows involving black women–and gladly featured females battling each other over an ashy, has-been rapper. Remember College Hill? The uppity black HBCU alumni went crazy and stopped the show from being renewed by BET. It was arguably one of the most accurate shows that depicted the party life I experienced at my university during the 2000s. It was less A Different World, way more College Hill..but with more cursing and tequila. Remember TLC’s The Sisterhood? The black church went berzerk. Remember Homeboys in Outerspace, Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeifer and Hot Ghetto Mess? Historical civil rights groups protested because they were a bad look, overall, which was good. Black organizations cared, organized, gained the black media’s attention and ended the shows after one season. I commented on a blog about my disdain with the Sorority Sisters cancellation, I was attacked by assorted splashes of red, pink, green, blue, etc.
One commenter said:
People are bashing this simple win because we didn’t accomplish getting the other shows off the air. Sororities are going to work to protect their reputation, that’s part of their job. Someone else said “why did they only help Black Greeks” because they represent Black Greeks!
Sorry, service to all mankind cannot be applied when it only affects your letters. ALL means EVERYBODY. Ashy.
Suspending the two women and attacking them was hypocritical. You have artists like K. Michelle, who openly battles other females about petty issues weekly, cursing numerous people out and also noted in blogs as the crazy chick? Was Shaq suspended or reprimanded when he bullied a man with a physical disorder on Instagram, which he was later sued for? They are people. They are sorors/frat and have a right to be ratchet, but also have a higher calling of self respect. The women suspended were not drug dealing strippers at Magic City, making the organization look bad and they were not the first sorors/frat to present themselves in a bad light on television..or in public. I’ve seen letters worn at bars, during fights, you name it. No reprimand.
There are truly bigger fish to fry. Yea, yea, yea, I hear the argument. “You don’t know what we do in the community!!” There are many chapters of BGLOs that do awesome work in the community, but when was the last unified effort to make a similar impact? Many sponsors of the show, including the NBA and Carmex, discontinued their sponsorship. When are we going to go after the sponsors of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, or organize a unified effort to pass the End Racial Profiling Act and Voting Rights Amendment Act? And if there’s any question about what I have done for the community, my bio can be seen here. Get into those apples.
Who’s to say that there is not a space for ratchet television or ratchet people? Someone’s watching it. Also, sometimes shows like Girlfriends do not reflect the females in many people’s life. The classic comedy Good Times was not allowed to be viewed in my household because my mother didn’t want me to have a mindset of poverty. Those were not people she identified with, but there was a space for it. Why can’t television be “diverse”, even when it reveals dysfunction? In communication studies, we learned about “framing” and how images affect our reality, an overly simplistic misperception (in media, this is put in place mostly by the dominant group–
white folks), so there is a valid point when the argument is made that there must be some responsibility. Children shouldn’t grow up believing this is how all black people act or should be. But this is “grown folks’ television”, parents need to do a better job at monitoring their child’s viewing habits. There are apps for that.
There are more people than your wine and cheese eating, CBC weekend attending, degree holding, Essence Fest going, birthday party bus promoting, brunch-hopping, mimosa drinking, when did you cross asking friends that probably need to be saved from ratchet TV.
Members of these organizations and institutions are revered as those that believe in taking leadership in their community. People that did not connect to an organization or historically black institution did not take an oath to commit to service.
To those sincerely interested in activism–which is probably most of those that pushed against this show–I believe your heart was in the right place, but it accidentally revealed the hypocrisy and gap between yourselves and the rest of Black America.
You cannot take an oath of service, brotherhood or sisterhood, but only passionately observe it when it applies to those wearing your letters or holding your membership card.