Nomalanga: Michelle Obama and Sherri Shepherd; The Angry Black Woman and The Buffoon

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michelle on the viewBy Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

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

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26 Comments

  1. Sheryl is indeed a comedienne and trust that part of the reason she was brought to The Talk is because of her sense of humor. But she is no one's buffoon or idiot. Sheryl is extremely intelligent, something she NEVER hides on the show or any show where she is given the chance to talk. But with that being said, the reality is that Black women, as well as Black men, are always thrown to some stereotype when on television or in film, just like those of us who are not celebrities. That's our existence in this country and we do at times pay a little too much attention to what other people are thinking about us.

  2. Diane Thornton on

    its as if, If a black women doesn't act or fit the mode then she labeled. Someone is always going to say mad black women or she acting like a hood rat.

  3. What makes you think the image making media would hire African American women that represented an image other thanthe streotypical. I can no longer watch them, they do not represent any African American women I have been in contact with. Regarding Rachel, Trayvon's friend, represents a segment of that age group.Further, he was being harrangued by the defense.

  4. This article needs to be read by all. Often as a young black woman, when someone asked have I viewed one of the current “reality” shows and I state that I don’t watch it. They say “Oh so you think you too good to watch it”. Matter of fact I am, I feel that brain cells die and I have better things to watch someone fake their life on television and post what’s really going on in their life. It grinds my gears to hear people speak so strongly on people that they know nothing about and they have issues with their own personal lives. Your article is dead on. I thought I was the only one that saw Sherri’s actions. And I’m here for Whoopi ANYDAY! Much success in the near future. Thanks for the article.

  5. holly robinson peete was on the previous seasons of ‘the talk’ – she was brilliant. often funny, very real, smart, down-to-earth – my favorite on the panel. but they got rid of her (and leah remini), so i think that reinforces your point. (i stopped watching when holly and leah’s contracts weren’t renewed – they were the ones also who were probably the most progressive politically, and that may have also contributed to their having been let go.)

  6. Your next to last sentence sums it all up nicely:

    HOW ABOUT WE STOP BEGGING OTHER PEOPLE TO “PUT US ON” AND WE CREATE OUR OWN MEDIA OUTLETS?

  7. If this was Barbara Bush would we be having this conversation, no! Every black woman is not angry and those that are, maybe angry for a reason, judging someone without knowing the facts is just as bad. I think talking to person will help you to understand if or why they are angry, than suggesting they are because of the color of their skin! Some people are a product of their environment, I think if more people lived in that person shoes and went through the things they go through they might understand why they are that way, not to make it ok but being able to see why eye to eye!

  8. Sheryl calls herself a Lincoln republican, she has a view if the world from11865 to 1965, and most occasions she shows her ignorance, and like the other clown Sherri, she will proclaim her christian faith shortly after saying something obnoxious.

  9. These ladies are clearly hyped up when they walk out on stage—-Cheryl U. reminds me of the late NIPSY RUSSELL,Sherrie S. Smile overtakes her (as beautiful as it is)—she seems overly anxious to make comments without laying back a little and watching the flow—-They both seem extremely (and can’t hide it) pleased with their being selected to be a part of both shows—–It gets a little crazy sometimes but so do the other ladies—–Both of you ladies are FANTASTIC and BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  10. Sheryl Underwood IS funny. I like her. I am always prepared to laugh whether the subject is serious or not.

    Sherry Shepherd is uninformed and NOT FUNNY AT ALL. She shares too much personal information about her, her abortions and her husband’s affair. I am sick of her. All men cheat, no one cares about her abortions, Sal or her retarded son. I liked her role on Everybody Loves Raymond.

  11. Sherri may be funny at times but she has the IQ of cotton lent. Having a double a–hole like Elizabeth Hasselback as your best friend gives one a clear idea of where your head is. She was well into her twenties when she admitted she though the world was square because we were not falling off and Elizabeth whose IQ is one decimal below Sherri’s was shaking her head as if she was in agreement.

  12. I agree on a lot of your points , yes this is the answer: how about we stop begging other people to “put us on” and we create our own media outlets? As there are enough talented professionals that are making money that should put their money together and create the atmosphere that we know can exist on television and in the movies!

  13. For my two cents, I would have to say that I’ve stopped watching the talk once Underwood became a part of the cast…she is obnoxious to say the least, she makes herself look ignorant with all the loud talking and making everything into some sort of sexual joke….as for Sherri, well she just seems like she is trying way too hard to be relevant. I am far from a hater, I just don’t find these two entertaining at all when it comes to being the host on a talk show, they should stick to the stand up

  14. I liked this article very much in spite of not agreeing with all of it. I watch both The View and The Talk. Sherri Shepherd has been on my last nerve for a long time. I don’t buy the fake smile and most of her conversation is the result of constant interruption, even when she has nothing of value to add. Sorry, but she comes across as a wanna-be sex symbol who talks too much about her boring personal life. I don’t doubt Cheryl Underwood is a smart lady. Too bad she hides it beneath coming off like an oversexed, street-speaking character. I’m sorry to say I don’t think either of them represent Black woman in any particularly positive way much.

    As for Michelle Obama – always the gracious lady who expects to be respected. And, if you don’t, you’ll nicely be put in your place. She makes me so proud! Same goes for Whoppi Goldberg – she is smart as a whip, talented as all get-out and deserves a high medal for having to constantly put up with Sherri and Elisabeth.

  15. Sheryl ~ daunting and reminds me of the antebellum black mama meme whose job was to take care of the master’s family and their egos via humor and great cheer. For if the master isn’t happy..no one else is happy.

    Sheri ~ An enigma. Whoopi called her a crazy bitch before going to commercial on a recent show.

    Aisha ~ Regrets that she wasn’t the product of white baby boomer hippie style parents. She just wants to belong by any means necessary!

  16. Great article! I especially appreciate the bit about “Scandal,” which is all the rage among educated black women. Never watched and won’t
    There’s a black woman creating a black network. Just read about it yesterday. I’m hopeful. I’m a writer and I’d love writing for a good show.

  17. That's why I have replaced my profile photo on Facebook with a photo of Rachel Jeantel. I think we need to support this young black woman who has been portrayed as ignorant and having an attitude by the media and even her own race.

  18. I am sorry, I have watched The View more than once and have never got the impression that Sherri represented a "Buffoon" She can be dizzy at times but she is very accomplished, has been a successful comedienne in a male-dominated industry for years, and is very personable and very relatable. I am sorry I do not agree. Have never seen Whoopi roll her eyes when Sherri speaks, Whoopi don't have to do that girl, cause she will read anyone of them if they work her nerves and FLOTUS? Disagree with your observations in regards to FLOTUS. Sorry.

  19. Pingback: Sheryl Underwood Asks Why Anyone Would Want “nappy” Hair; Accused of Hating Herself | Healthy Black Woman

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