Recently, the story about First Lady Michelle Obama confronting a heckler was a major headline, just about everywhere! And so, of course, it followed that “the angry Black woman” label crept its way back to its cozy place next to her. In my opinion, the First Lady conducted herself exactly as she should have and that does not make her an “angry black woman”-case closed!
Now, there is another disturbing label that I am seeing too much of. It may not be making the headlines but it is certainly looking like it is becoming a prerequisite for a Black woman to be on a daytime talk show. In recent weeks, I have been mildly entertained by watching a “The View” style talk show on CBS called “The Talk”. Two Black women sit at the table as part of a panel of about five women who sit and have a “talk”. My concern with this panel is primarily centered on Sheryl Underwood.
Anyone who has ever watched the talk show will know what I’m talking about. Now granted, Underwood is a comedienne so it makes sense that a lot of the things she says would be funny. The issue that I’m having is that her humor always quickly goes from funny to buffoonery in every episode. Don’t get me wrong, she actually makes me laugh sometimes because she’s “hella hella funny”. Which brings us to the adorable and also funny Sherri Shepherd…
I challenge anyone to watch ABC’s popular daytime talk show The View and tell me you didn’t notice how Whoopie Goldberg tends to roll her eyes when Sherri is having one of her buffoon moments. The sad part of some of Sherri’s buffoonery is that it is not intentional. I adore Sherri Shepherd but I can’t help but cringe when she talks because it is almost inevitable that she will make a gaffe and then spend the rest of the show trying to recover from it.
Just so it’s clear, I don’t think Mrs. Obama is an angry Black woman and I don’t believe that both Sherri and Sheryl are buffoons but I have to wonder if those are the narrow confines within which a Black woman can maintain her “spot” on a successful talk how.
One might argue that on The Talk Sheryl is accompanied by Aisha Tyler who doesn’t act like a buffoon to stay on but as much as I hate to say it, I have yet to hear her say anything of substance. Again, she seems like a sweet woman but watching her does not make me believe that she came on the show with a solid voice and platform that she wanted to advance.
As for my beloved Whoopie, she may not be the angry Black woman-she’s more like the very bored Black woman. Every chance she gets, she makes it clear that the main reason she is on The View is that she was not getting nearly as many acting gigs as she would like and the show gives her a steady stream of income.
Before anyone (inevitably) accuses me of “hating” or of having some kind of “crabs in the barrel” mindset, let me be clear about what I’m saying. I am concerned about the way that Black women are being forced to act in order to advance their careers in television and media. Let’s not forget about the gorgeous and talented “Olivia Pope” character which is played by Kerri Washington. Yes, she’s smart, driven and accomplished BUT she chooses to sleep with somebody’s husband over and over again and that is what the major focus of the show is. I won’t even get into a long discussion about the sabotage and hair pulling fights I have seen on most of the reality shows that center around groups of Black women. All I’m saying is that we need to see more than two extremes when it comes to Black women in television and media.
I would love to see a smart, talented and accomplished woman who either confines her “rolling in the hay” to her own marital bed, or at least refrains from doing it in another woman’s marital bed. How about we see a smart, sassy and funny woman who knows she doesn’t have to resort to buffoonery to make her audience laugh? And finally, how about we stop begging other people to “put us on” and we create our own media outlets? I believe we can do it and the sooner we get started, the better.
Nomalanga helps Black women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , a former College Professor and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s Facebook page or Follow her on Twitter