Why I Miss Oprah – How Social Media And Reality TV Are Destroying The Image Of Black Women
If you’re roughly my age and skin tone, you probably remember a time when our moms introduced us to Oprah as our voice on TV. Our moms all had subscriptions to Essence, Ebony and Jet magazines. The media we followed gave us examples to live by, and important discussions to engage in. Discussions about the things that mattered to us, which included viewing both sides of a story, accepting our different views and not dissing or trolling at each other.
Today, in the age of social media and reality shows, it has fallen unto Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop, The Real Housewives of Atlanta and the constant scandal news on The Shade Room and World Star Hip Hop to continually drag down our image in society. Yes, I said it: “our image.”
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate reality shows or celebrity news. In some ways, I myself, have benefited from the celebrity news cycle. But where is our Oprah? Where is that platform for the issues we truly care about? I cannot tell you how many times I hear snarky talk of black women being considered angry, masculine, bitter, hot tempered, ratchet… I know I’m not the only one hearing this mess. The first thought that always comes to mind is, “Who are they talking about?!” They aren’t talking about me. I’m none of those things and neither are many of you, I am sure. So why does TV and social media make it look that way?
To make matters worse, the Obamas are leaving the White House soon. Many of us in the black community don’t even realize how much we will miss them. Okay, I get it, you may disagree with our President’s politics. But I think it’s safe to say that many Americans will miss having a man as their president who is real. Not as in reality TV. And yes, a man and a family who provide a positive image we can hold ourselves to as 21st century black Americans.
You see, I believe that if you want to flip the script and protect yourself from the harmful image the media puts out, rather than complaining, you have to speak positivity. Build something. America, not just Black America, needs forums of open, respectful dialog. And black American women need a voice. With Oprah’s show gone, and the generations shifting, we don’t have that at the moment. I mean, who are we allowing to speak for us? Al Sharpton? Gloria Allred? Blac Chyna?
So what does the future hold? Well, for me, a few years ago I started this blog to talk about some of the same issues I thought were underrepresented in our media. As my online audience grew to hundreds of thousands, and my website climbed to being a major news source for the Black community, I became a moderator for the topics that move us. I have learned that rather than chasing what’s “trending,” large numbers of people actually appreciated being able to follow up on quality stories. Stories that affect our community, and delve deeper. This response has made me optimistic that we can have a better dialog and continue to find our voice in America today.