Melissa Harris-Perry And Kenya Moore Debate The State of African-American Womanhood and Negative Images On Reality TV

July 8, 2013  |  

Source: MSNBC

I think that most of us can agree that reality TV has somewhat of a negative impact on how women of color are portrayed in the media, but just how much of an impact is debatable. During the Essence Music Festival, MSNBC’s Lean Forward host, Melissa Harris-Perry sat down with Issa Rae, Kenya Moore, Tonya Lewis-Lee and The Grio’s Joy Reid. During the chat, the ladies touched on the never-ending discussion about the relationship between reality TV and it’s relationship with detrimental images of Black women and things got fairly interesting, as the ladies shared their varying views.

“Kenya, you take all kinds of criticism and so I appreciate you being here, in part because I despise like positive vs. negative. I’m more interested in complicated. So tell the complicated story,” Harris-Perry said, offering Kenya an opportunity to share her stance on the debate.

Never being who is short on words, Kenya jumped right in.

“I think with our show, we are the number one show on the Bravo network and that’s for a reason. When people Black, White, Asian watch our show, when women watch our show, they identify with the women that they’re seeing. They’re mothers, they’re women, they’re married, in relationships. You show them in everyday circumstances dealing with their problems and trying to navigate their lives. That’s what women identify with. It’s not neceserrily the negative aspect, although we do see some of that… That’s what they’re tuning in for, to see what everyday life looks like.”

Melissa went on to discuss how stereotypes portrayed on television by African-American reality TV stars stain the images of everyday Black women in the minds of society.

“People who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones,” Kenya responded. “No one’s life is perfect. I don’t see Jesus walking around here. So we all have those moments, but those moments aren’t captured on television. I think that’s the difference. Our show is a reality show and with that you open yourself up to those vulnerable aspects of your life.”

Turn the page to check out footage from the discussion. Do you tune into reality shows because of the reliability of the cast?

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  • Beenana

    I am sick of this debate. Ratchet reality tv is here to stay and ain’t going nowhere because its entertainment. If you look at tv and think that’s the reality then your a dumba$&. I don’t care if you white black yellow green. It don’t matter. We do have have shows like t.i and tiny, Braxton’s, ect. Nobody thinks all white kids act like honey boo boo. I do think we need a balance and I think it’s getting better but these bitter beaches need to shut up and let entertainment grow and realize reality and much of a reality. It’s entrrtainment

    • Beenana

      Reality ain’t much of a reality. Typo

  • Bits

    Kenya Moore is a nit wit and a moron.

  • Clarke (A 19 Y/O Black Man)

    And this is, exactly, where the paradox
    of society lies.

    Western Society’ have damaged the minds of Black people and altered our psyche
    in the most detrimental of ways over the course of generations, particularly
    those belonging to the African-American ethnicity and most of all – Black Women.

    as a people, have become, somewhat, programmed to believe and brainwashed in
    thinking that, because of the farcical stereotypes that ‘White people’ have
    planted us with, we must ‘change’ in order to fit realm of what America says we
    are not.

    the context of these female reality shows, [and generally on an everyday basis]
    why is that Black Women, specifically, must be weary and diligent of how they
    act, how they are portrayed, how they are presented, how they are showcased,
    how they are depicted and how they are characterized? Why is it that they
    ‘have’ to work extra hard in diluting and eliminating the crass,
    institutionalized, generalizations that they never put there, on the pedestal,
    in the first place? Why is that they have to ‘break the mould’ of what a Black
    Woman is, even though we know that everyone is there ‘own’ individual and that
    ‘not every Black Woman is the same’? Why do people, namely, ‘White people, find
    this so hard to believe?

    all means, yes, there is a certain way in which every Woman should act – but
    why does it have to be broken down into racial/ethnic categories? As if…
    White Women are the shining example of which all women should aspire to be? As
    if… there are no such thing as uncouth White Women? As if… there are no
    such thing as cheap, uncultivated, discourteous, impertinent, undignified and
    “loud” White Women. Why is it just limited to, primarily, a ‘Black
    female’ circumstance?

    is why my fellow Black man must NOT demean our sisters. We must uplift them,
    tell them that they are beautiful and treat them with morality and respect. The
    danger of Hip-Hop is
    that it strengthens the idea that Black Women are nothing but “B*tches”
    and “Ho*s” and this needs to stop. By all means, it must. We need
    much stronger [poised, refined, eloquent, articulate and sophisticated] Black
    men in the spotlight. By all means, the biased and unfair stereotype of the
    Black male is much worst, in this day and age, and, unfortunately, this is
    something that must be broken also as American society is unbelievably fickle.

    • Twisted


      Preach Honey… Preach.

      And you’re 19? Please… Don’t ever change!!! Our race need wise, Black men like you to be a beacon for the next generation. AMEN Brother, AMEN.

    • chanela

      Easy questions… White women have TONS of diverse images. They have like 5 honey boo boo type of shows showing unattractive white people and then they have 1000 shows with attractive,smart,beautiful,civilized white people. Then on the black side we have like 4 tv shows with positive black women and over 300 shows and movies showing negativity and unattractive behavior. It’s such a bad ratio that people on other countries who happen to watch these shows think that American black women are aggressive ignorant animals.they think that because that is all they see whenever they see black woman in the media. Everyday black women like myself get complimented every damn day with ” you’re so polite/well spoken/nice for a black woman!” When has anyone EVER said anything close to this for any other race of woman? All other non black women have a good ratio of good and bad as well on the Spanish networks and Korean and Indian networks. People don’t see them being ignorant every time you are them.

      Then you have black people that condemn civilized black people and say that they aren’t acting black enough and that they are a sell out, just because they don’t act like negative stereotypes.

      It’s a huge mess!

  • Jamie

    I thought Melissa should have gone in on Kenya in a positive way. kenya makes is sounds like everyday women act a fool, cuss, fight all the time. Those lives on reality television are not always normal.

  • nick

    Is Melissa trying to be funny? Kenya’s story isn’t complicated, she gets paid to act like a clown for us on tv every sunday night..The End!

  • Realityh03$Anonymous….ohwait

    Kenya kno DA MN well most people watch for the DRAMA! Anit no body came off the trunup truck

  • LolaStriker

    Kenya is delusional if she thinks we all tune in for any other reason but the drama.

  • Guest360

    Honestly, I thought Kenya was trying to justify the unjustifiable. “People tune in to see what everyday life looks like”. No boo! No one needs to watch your show in order to see everyday life. They tune in to see you act a fool on a national television. They tune in to see what mess you’re going to get involved with. Has nothing to do with you being relatable but everything to do with you being a trainwreck and people wanting to see your downfall.

    • bluekissess

      I tuned in hoping Walter will finally claim her

  • In other words as long as those checks keep coming from Bravo she will keep doing her thang negative stereotypes be d*mned. Shoot Kenya said she got some high a** rent that needs to be paid! lol