In a recent interview I read, Shonda Rhimes was quoted saying: ‘it is important that diversity is not just a word and that we actually all at one or some point get to see ourselves in mass media’. Stereotypes sell. Stereotypes are bad because they perpetuate one grande, mass idea about a certain group of people in society.
A few examples: Black women are loud and ghetto, White men are successful, Black men are criminals, White women are loving housewives.
We thank TV/series production Gods and Godesses for Shonda Rhimes and Mara Brock Akil, and many other TV production writers that are going against the stereotype.
Mara Brock Akil alongside her husband, Salim Akil have created two successful TV series shows ‘Girlfriends’ and ‘Being Mary Jane’. These TV series shows set to represent the diverse nature of women within thin black community. You have absolutely no idea what a great feeling it is to be able to ‘find’ a glimpse of yourself in mass media. Not that one would have ‘lost’ a part of themselves, but what mass media does is it ‘affirms’ or rather, it ‘reaffirms’ ones otherness. It reminds one that there are plenty “you’s” out there, that it is okay.
Now- Being Mary Jane (BMJ) is a TV series that captures and unravels the beautifully messy life of a 30-something year old, successful, black, female, news anchor. Mary Jane’s perceived perfection is enveloped by her imperfections- she makes mistakes, she makes bad choices, she struggles, she fights, she forgives, most importantly she loves, she gives and she is in a constant search of receiving the love back in return. Mary Jane is a beautiful mess. The show is just honest, unpretentious, rugged and raw; which is why most of my peers in the 25+ age bracket cannot get enough of the show!
TV shows such as these create discourse around the black (female) community; about our personal choices, career, romantic partners, ideas around wealth and success, psychological (mental) fitness, spiritual fitness, the complex black family structure/s…etc. I think as a community, as a society and later as a species it is important to have open dialogues (in poetry, in music and in film) about who we are and where we are going. TV series such as BMJ encourages such dialogue to take place.
I appeal to all artists- painters/illustrators, musicians, film makers, dancers; to birth work that will challenge society to stop and think and want to take action.
It is is your right and your responsibility to be the best version of yourself, no matter your circumstance. You are here, you are alive, you are breathing meaning you have a purpose!