Seven Dollars a Week or Seven Thousand Dollars a Week?
This is the question we will inevitably be forced to face (ask and answer) in regards to actors and actresses who take stereotypical parts in movies, young women who shake and put on display for the world their (ass)ets in music videos and artist who sell pornography via their singing and rapping.
Hattie McDaniel who is best known for her Oscar winning role as Scarlet O’ Hara’s sassy and loyal servant in “Gone With Wind” said in response to those who criticized her for playing a mammy in several movies; “"Why should I complain about making seven thousand dollars a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd be making seven dollars a week actually being one”.
With that said; Essence has launched a campaign entitled “Take Back the Music”. The purpose of this campaign is to address “the imbalance in the depiction of Black women’s sexuality and character in music and in music videos” Essence makes some insightful observations in regards to the some of the effects music and music videos have, Essence writes;
“The damage of this imbalanced portrayal of Black women is impossible to measure. An entire generation of Black girls are being raised on these narrow images. And as the messages and images are broadcast globally, they have become the lens through which the world now sees us. This cannot continue.”
It is said that if people treat you a certain way, and look at you a certain way, you will began to act and behave in the way you are perceived. I believe this is what Essence is saying when they speak of the damage to young women that grow up seeing these images more often than not.
I have heard many artist speak about their right to make a living and I do not think any one will deny that every man and woman have a right to make a living for themselves and their families, but must their lively hood be made possible at the expense of Black folk by perpetuating stereotypes and images that are degrading and self destructive?
One question I often ask myself and others as have Essence is; are the images being discussed here under attack because of what they do, or because of the lack of balance? Take note of the fact that while Essence is asking for a paradigm change in the portrayal of Black women, the change they seek is rooted in the imbalance of positive versus negative images of Black women in music and music videos. How many Black folk are on television and in movies playing redeeming characters versus those that are playing characters that are stereotypes and demeaning to Black folk. Can we have balance and still have what we have today? Can the two images co-exist as they do in the real world? The entertainment industry rarely creates anything; it only promotes a thing and beams it across the globe. The pimp, the drug dealer and the prostitute existed long before Hollywood and music gave theses individuals’ attention.
I believe the very thing we see happening in music, movies and television we see happening in politics and the spread of certain ideologies via the media. While Negro-Cons represent a small portion of the Black community, the time allotted to them on television, the space allotted to them in newspaper is not equivalent to the number of Black folk that share their view points and behavior, so it is with the negative images of Black folk in the entertainment industry. The over representation of certain images, ideology, and politics in any medium that is not generally true about Black men and women can be damaging to Black folk in many ways and promotes those things, thus I believe this is why some Black folk seek balance versus the complete removal of a thing because as much as we might hate to admit it, that thing we hate to see and talk about does exist but we all agree it does not exist in the numbers that makes it a general representation of Black people thus it should not get as much time on display in comparison to those things that we can say are generally true about Black men and women and promote positive imagery.
There are far more of us that chose the seven dollars a week versus the seven thousand dollars a week, the problems is us seven dollars a week men and women do not get the face time and promotion all over the world the seven thousand dollars a week individuals get although we out number them in a ratio of probably 1000 to 1 if not more and this is what Essence seeks to change and I support them in this effort.
If you do not comment on this topic here and even if you do, go over to Essence website and leave a comment there in the space they have allotted for reactions to their campaign.