All Articles Tagged "role models"
I worry for my 1-year-old niece. She is very young now, but when she navigates the schoolyard years from now, I wonder what the music she hears will sound like. I wonder what images will be on her TV screen. Who will be her generation’s Beyoncé? Will her generation be overcome with more women like Joseline Hernandez and ratch reality TV, or will a phenomenal woman attempt to fill the void left behind by the legendary Maya Angelou?
Who will be the champion for women?
Watching reality television, it is easy to think that women – no matter their wealth, education or race – are vessels that feed off greed, violence and foolishness. Whether you are watching “Real Housewives of Orange County” or “Bad Girls Club” one thing remains the same: the women behave badly, and as time goes on, I’m sure things will get worse.
It’s not to say that there are no women in this present day who serve as role models. Unfortunately, their work and influence doesn’t garner the same amount of attention and ratings as bottles and fists being thrown at a “Love and Hip Hop” reunion seems to.
Indeed, we have amazing women who are blazing trails of inspiration. Lupita Nyong’o stuns with humble grace. Kerry Washington paves the way for other young black actresses to become successful. First Lady Michelle Obama remains an inspiration to girls to aim higher and be proud. Mo’Ne Davis showed girls her age (13) and younger that baseball isn’t only a boy’s sport. Gabby Douglas and Misty Copeland overcame adversity to win gold and make history. Then there’s Helen Gayle, Ursula Burnes, and don’t get me started on Oprah. But for every powerful woman of color making waves, people seem to have more of an interest in following foolery.
Popular culture, and those who take it in and, need to stop glorifying this same old scene and begin celebrating something different. People need to stop focusing on selling sex and bigger backsides in their music and try selling substance. We need more diverse images of black women and people on TV (and that’s slowly but surely happening) and on the big screen. And overall, whether through shows like “Blackish” or more events like Black Girls Rock, there needs to be a balance that provides girls with images that are positive and let them know that they can do and be more than they imagined.
The change we seek and role models we desire starts with the call to our current ladies in power to create the difference. Let their platforms and our support give girls of the present and future a louder voice and something better than what’s currently flooding popular culture right now.
Michelle told ya’ll long ago, in very explicit terms, that she was not going to run for office. Just last year, in an interview with the women of “The View” she said:
“Absolutely not — I am not interested in politics, never have been. I mean, one of the things you learn after 48 years of life, you know what your passions and your gifts are… No I have no interest in politics. Never have. Never will.”
Initially, when I heard this admission, I was kind of discouraged. I knew that this meant that after the president’s eight years are over, we wouldn’t see a black woman like her in such a position of leadership for a long time. We would see less and less of our girl.
Yes, “our girl.” Of course I’m very aware and very proud of the fact that Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States of America. Yet, over the past five years or so, she has become a relatable, role model. A friend in my head as Wendy Williams would say. Michelle is extremely intelligent, polished and accomplished, yet she’s simultaneously down to earth, approachable and warm. She comes from a place not unlike the places that many black women in this country come from. She says the things black women have said or have wanted to say, in very public spaces. She, despite her position and title, has always managed to come off as someone who’s real and authentic. So it’s not hard to consider her an [imaginary] friend.
And though I originally perceived my friend’s distaste for politics as a negative thing; now, I can see how it’s actually quite wonderful. I don’t really need or want her in politics at all, actually. But now, even after she’s said that and I’ve accepted it, there are still folks– a lot of folks, who are starting to strongly encourage that she do just what she said she wouldn’t.
There is not a doubt in my mind that Michelle would make a good politician. Like her husband, she’s smart, she seems to genuinely care about people and she represents a stark contrast to the money-driven, sleazy, corrupt style of politics this country has known for a long time. But running for office, when she told us that she wouldn’t would be the first in a string of lies to come.
But I guess people aren’t looking at it that way. They’re looking at numbers. Things like her approval ratings and mock polls, which suggest that people would gladly vote for her. What they’re not considering is the fact that both she and President Obama have said that she doesn’t have the patience or temperament for it. She told Gayle not only does she not meddle in her husband’s affairs, she generally stays away from he and his staff’s offices. Judging from Michelle’s time in the White House, it’s clear that she prefers to keep things light and easy, choosing causes that most everyone can support, like assisting military families, the White House garden and her “Let’s Move” campaign. Despite causes that are seemingly universally positive, she’s still had to face scrutiny. And it certainly wouldn’t stop if she were running or even elected to office.
But the greatest loss we’d experience with Michelle as a politician would be the loss of realness we’ve seen her exhibit thus far. Remember back in 2008, when she said “For the first time in my adult life, I’m really proud of my country,”? Millions of Americans, particularly black Americans, knew exactly what she meant. And it was probably exactly how she felt; but that didn’t stop right-wing media from questioning her patriotism and dedication to the United States. The Obama campaign eventually had to go back and explain what she meant and why it wasn’t a jab at America. You could be sure, as an elected official that moments of unfiltered honesty, would be few and far between, if not completely extinct.
There would be no more calling folks out for attempting to characterize her as an “angry black woman,” because then she’d be playing the “race card.” There would be no more dougie-ing on the White House lawn because that would mean she wasn’t taking her job seriously. There would be fewer shouts out to the Southside of Chicago because she has to be concerned about everybody now. And there would certainly be no more suspected eye rolls to Speaker of the House, John Boehner, no matter how warranted they may have been. As a politician, all of that would be completely unacceptable and cause for constant berating, further stereotyping and even demonization.
Michelle doesn’t need all of that and neither do I.
Furthermore, let’s not pretend that as a politician, Michelle wouldn’t have to get a little dirty. “Scandal” has at least taught us that much. It’s highly unlikely that any politician reaches measures of significant success without having to compromise his or her core beliefs. She’d enter into a game where deals would be made and promises would be broken in exchange for whatever her campaign managers and eventual cabinet deem as “the greater good.” We’ve seen it happen with her husband and Guantanamo, the drones and even, some would argue, the black community. While you can’t convince me that President Obama isn’t the best candidate for the job; from 2008 until now, we’ve experienced a couple of disappointments. I’m really not ready to endure the same with Michelle.
So, for her sake, mine and the rest of the black girls and women who admire the woman we’ve grown to “know” over the past few years, let’s dead the talk of her running for office and keep her and her image real, authentic and honest.
Girls is a perfect example of how complicated television viewing can be for black folks.
I will admit to liking the show. In fact, I have watched it faithfully since giving in to my curiosity, somewhere through the first season. It’s a good show, one I almost missed by feeding in exclusively to all the criticism. This is not to suggest that the critics aren’t right: calling itself the voice of a new generation is basically challenge-accepted from the blogosphere to find out ways in which it is not. And anyone with a Netflix account and a modest knowledge of Sex and the City, Golden Girls, Designing Women, Girlfriends and a whole host of shows largely centered on the intimate lives of four women, will already cite that this “voice” has long been inter-generational. But at least it is set in Brooklyn – Oh wait, so was Living Single…
Although Girls’ overworked concept is as fresh as day-old orange juice and bagels, the show is not without its charming originality. First and foremost, Hannah, the title character played by the show’s own writer/producer Lena Dunham, is short, frumpy, has a double chin and has more gut than butt. These television anomalies not only challenge how we define Hollywood beauty, but also make Hannah in some ways, a pioneering figure. In addition to being the atypical protagonist of a show centered around the dating and sex lives of women, Dunham takes it to another magnitude by filming her uncharacteristic television body in the buff, appearing, at the very least, topless in just about every episode I’ve seen. When asked in an interview why she filmed so often without any clothing on, Dunham poignantly said that she wanted the world to, “Look at us until you see us.”
But despite Dunham’s aim to expand the range of women on television, one troupe which she, and the other members of the creative team behind Girls perpetuate, is this whitewashed and insular world where race doesn’t exist – even in Brooklyn. This is not in the sense of the common criticism about the lack of characters of color, which has been levied upon the show. While I understand how frustrating it is to have countless television shows centered around the lives of white folks’ ratchetness be labeled as revolutionary, and more specifically voices of a new generation, a story doesn’t necessarily have to have a central character of color to have some value. And while not the epitome-voice of the new generation, like it has been marketed, I think the clever writing and story lines does, in my opinion, warrant it being listed as one of many interesting and atypical contemporary voices.
Despite not being the sole onus of either the contemporary voice or television’s diversity problem, I still find it quite interesting how cued in the show’s creators are in wanting to challenging one-ism while being totally tone-deaf to the desire to see equal representation on the screen. For me, those two concepts go hand and hand. However I am a black woman. And Dunham is not.
In the second season opener, we see Hannah straddling Sandy, her new black Republican lover, topless and having at it. Sandy, who is played by Donald Glover. This is what you wanted, this is what you get? While clearly a middle-finger to her critics, it is not all that daring a nod to the race discussion she might have been hoping for. At this point in television history, what’s so shocking about a white girl having sex with a black dude? Miranda did it for an entire season on Sex and the City. One could mistakenly interpret this scene as an attempt, albeit lame, to be both dismissive and antagonistic to the critics. However, in the second episode, we are treated to more interactions with Sandy, some of which occurs outside of the bedroom. During one such occasion, Sandy and Hannah are discussing an essay of hers she had asked him to read. Sandy didn’t like it; Hannah is upset, but instead of coming at him for his dislike of her essay, she goes in on him about how irresponsible it is for him to be a black Republican, especially considering that “two out of three people on death row are black men.” The end of the scene involves the two breaking up and Hannah walking away from Sandy. This is the last time we see Sandy, and I suspect, the “race” issue.
Through this exchange, we see Dunham take a much more poetic response to critics, presenting to us the difficulties and awkwardness, which some folks, particularly white folks, might feel when race is interjected into the conversation. On one hand we have Sandy, whom outside of knowing his name and that he is black and republican, we really don’t know much about. However, that might be the point. Perhaps Hannah is so clueless and self-absorbed that she honestly doesn’t know that using statistics about the incarceration rate of black men as a weapon in an argument is just a tad bit racist. In a sense, Hannah could be one of those white girls who just doesn’t “get it.” And despite how irksome the real life Hannahs are, there is something very honest about seeing her (their) portrayals on television.
Or as Judy Berman, editor of FlavorPill, who penned this piece for the Atlantic, writes:
“What Dunham’s latest well-intentioned disappointment makes clear is that it will never be enough for white writers to simply try harder in their depictions of non-white characters. Some may produce keenly observed, authentic-feeling portrayals, but even those who have spent their whole lives surrounded by people of diverse backgrounds will never know first-hand what it’s like to be a person of color in America. They will never respond to Django Unchained in quite the same way as Haitian-American writer Roxane Gay. Those who don’t get it will, for the most part, continue to not get it. The truth, distasteful as it may be to those who imagine that we live in a “post-racial” era or believe it’s small-minded to apply identity politics to art, is that we still haven’t reached a point in our history at which the discrepancies between the way people of different races (or genders or religions or sexual orientations) experience life are negligible.”
But while Hannah may not “get it,” I’m not sure that I can say the same for Dunham. Sometimes some folks are keenly aware of what they do and say and are just really sophistic in caring about the effect that it has on people. Some folks, in fact, are very comfortable in their privilege, which doesn’t require them to answer or even be responsive specifically to race, gender or where they might intersect. For instance, in an interview with Alec Baldwin on his podcast, Dunham criticized Rihanna for her relationship with Chris Brown and smoking weed, and then said that she is not a good role model for young women. According to US Weekly, Dunham also says that she “had to become more conscious about what I say and what I promote, not in a way that stifles me, but just in a way where I realize now that there are 17-year-old girls who come up to me and tell me that the show means a lot to them.”
In the matter of a season and half of Girls, I have seen a character accidentally smoke crack; intentionally sleep with a gay dude; almost have a threesome; do coke for the sheer experience of writing about it; and affectionately be peed on in the shower by a boyfriend. It’s hard to play the role model card when your entire representation of a new generation hinges on women, who are one bad decision away from being crack w***es. Likewise, I find it highly unlikely that Dunham cannot recognize, or even find some commonality with, Rihanna’s own growing pains, and that experienced by characters of her hit television series, which is said to be based upon her life and the lives of friends in her social circle. On television, fictional Hannah deserves our empathy or at least understanding. In real life, Rihanna does not. That’s why it is almost laughable when Dunham speaks of looking, “…at us until you see us.” Like, what version of “us” does she truly believe the television viewing audience has yet to accept and acknowledge?
I know, I know; you’re already assuming by this headline that I’m hating on Bey. Well, although there’s a lot to be envious about, my issue with Beyonce and the First Lady’s romance has less to do with Bey and more to do with Michelle Obama.
As reviews start rolling in of Beyoncé’s concert at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, it’s become apparent that Michelle’s attendance, along with her two daughters Sasha and Malia, added an umph factor to the already-highly-publicized festivities. Just days before, the First Lady had told People that if she could be anyone else, she’d be Beyoncé. Huh?
But my confusion with Michelle Obama’s infatuation with the pop star didn’t start there – it started when she commented about how good of a role model Beyonce is to young women. I don’t know about you but although I do think Bey is the greatest performer out there today (as her hubby Jay tweeted over the weekend), I wouldn’t hold her up as the gold standard for young girls.
Sasha and Malia are both under 13. To uphold this woman, who has partially gotten to the top by dressing scantily and gyrating in music videos and engaging in a competition of whose the hottest amongst the pop princesses, as their role model just seems kind of funny to me.
To be honest, I’d be more comfortable with my kids watching Kelly Clarkson videos any day. But again, that’s about understanding what it means to be an appropriate role model for young girls. Michelle Obama is an example of a wholesome role model. Beyonce definitely deserves respect but her career is not something I’d be comfortable for my kids to admire.
While I’m sure Michelle appreciates the Carter’s support of her husband’s election campaign, I do think she needs to draw the line when it comes to her fandom of Queen Bee. President Obama has been accused of being too Hollywood and the gushing of the Carters, a family who is better known for their musical achievements rather than their philanthropic efforts, doesn’t really help to keep them connected with the average American. I admire the Obamas, and I admire the Carters on a very different level, but I do want them to stay in their lanes to an extent. I admit it!
What do you think? Should FLOTUS keep her love affair for the Queen on the low or continue to espouse her as a great role model?
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In a recent interview with JuJu Chang for ABC’s “Nightline,” Nicki Minaj sat down to chat about everything from witnessing abuse during her childhood to being compared to Lady Gaga. Naturally, during the conversation the actual content of her music came into question. Late last year, after a video of Sophia Grace passionately singing Minaj’s song “Superbass” went viral, the artist said she and her crew developed a running joke: “Can Sophia sing this?” While she said she never wants to offend mothers with her music, she didn’t come into the industry to appeal to children.
Ok that’s… understandable. Even though you wear bright Barbie colors and speak/rap like cartoon characters, aka elements which are appealing to children, we’ll give you a pass on that one. I’d argue it’s the parents’ job to keep their children away from things they don’t want them to see or hear for as long as possible. But we’ll get to that.
The interview went on to address whether or not Minaj’s lyrics, and really her career at large, contain a “girl power” message. Watching the interview, I’m under the impression that, for whatever reason, ABC wanted to portray her in a very positive light. They highlighted Minaj’s song “Moment for Life” and aired clips of her explaining what it meant to be “bossed-up” as a woman in the industry.
True, those two examples would definitely paint her in the pro-girl power light; however the segment didn’t highlight one of Minaj’s most recent singles, “Stupid H*e” or the fact that she relies on one asset in particular during her music videos.(See her booty clapping in a cage during “Stupid H*e” or winding up in Big Sean’s “A*s.” ) Or even the fact that while she encourages women to be independent and successful, she often refers to herself and her competition as bytchs, though she didn’t seem too fond of the term in the interview. Contradictions.
On the other hand, we can’t deny that Minaj is achieving success based on her talent and business acumen. Her album, which has been criticized as being sub-par at best, is selling slowly but she’s going on a world tour to promote it, so even if she loses on album sales, she’ll make much more money touring. She’s signing endorsement deal after endorsement deal and she’s said time and time again that she refuses to rely on a man to provide success for her.
So what are we to make of all this?
If you were to ask me, I’d say nothing much.
We shouldn’t be looking toward any artist or entertainer to be a complete role model for us. Really, most people can’t be complete role models for us. If you examine any one person long enough, you’ll find something you definitely don’t want to emulate. This is as true for ordinary people as it is artists. The only difference is that with non-famous people you may have more insight into why they do the foolish things they do, whereas a celebrity may or may not feel the need to constantly explain him or herself, knowing that they’ll never have the approval of everyone.
While I won’t deny that I have a general interest in what celebrities may or may not do, when they act a fool, with the exception of a few, I can’t say that I’m truly surprised. 1. Because we’ve all been known to act a fool on occasion and 2. Because I don’t know, and therefore, have relatively low expectations for them. Jezebel reported that Minaj embraces being a feminist role model. I can see why she might think she fits that mold but I won’t look to her for that, simply because I have better examples.
Some people see a problem in the fact that impressionable people, children and adults alike, can start to internalize the images Minaj and other artists portray as some type of guidebook to life. It is a problem and people surely will take on celebrity role models. But children, in the care of their parents, shouldn’t only have those images to teach them what life’s about. And grown folks who willingly subscribe to Nicki’s antics as the best way to live life are…probably beyond help.
But more people than you might suspect are looking toward celebrities and Minaj isn’t the only one. There are people doubting the plausibility of successful marriages because so many Hollywood unions end in divorce. There are people personally offended because they feel Beyoncé lied to them about her pregnancy. And there are people who refuse to accept or acknowledge that Whitney Houston used drugs because they want to remember her fondly.
The best we can hope for from some celebrities is that they just might use their platform to do some good. And honestly, though not always consistently, I’ve seen Minaj do that.
I say all of that to say this, people, celebrities and common-folk alike, are complex. And being in the limelight doesn’t change that. People are never all good or all bad. The trick is learning what elements you may want to take from them and what elements you want to leave alone. Keeping that in mind, there’s no need to be surprised when Nicki Minaj is doing something positive like making it out of an abusive home and establishing a successful career as a woman in a male dominated industry. Just like there’s no need to be surprised when she releases a video that looks like it could have been shot at the now defunct Freaknik and aired on the similarly terminated, “Uncut.” She’s a human being. By nature, she’s full of contradictions and if we can expect anything from her, we can expect that we’ll agree with some of her choices and disagree with others.
By the way, you can watch the interview in its entirety below:
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There are two things that bother me most about the response to Chris Brown and Rihanna’s assumed reunion. One is the fact that people who looked at Rihanna like a trashy R&B wild child days before are now pretending to suddenly be so concerned about her emotional and physical wellbeing that they have penned open letters to her about her love life. The other is the idea that Rihanna owes it to young girls everywhere not to go back to the man who physically assaulted her because she’s a role model.
Let’s be real about something. Rihanna hasn’t had the potential to be a role model since she ponned de replay, and even then I’m not sure that’s what she wanted to be. But since the assumed good girl has obviously gone bad she has repeatedly shouted from the roof tops that she is not a role model, she does not wish to be a role model, and she will not adjust her life to be a role model. Why aren’t we letting her talk that talk?
I understand the logic that once you become a performer your private life and a lot of the personal decisions you make are put on display for millions of fans and the public at large to critique, but that doesn’t make you a role model, that makes you visible. I feel the same way when it comes to the backlash against rappers. Of course they could all stand to make the content of their music a little less misogynistic and a lot more purposeful, but can we really expect men who literally just stepped out of the hood and got $10 million dollars put in their pocket to talk about their life experiences to suddenly encourage behavior they know nothing about? I mean is there some sort of remedial thug program aspiring rappers go through once they get a deal? Of course not.
Do I think there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes along with being a person that influential? Yes, but only to the extent that if you are engaging in questionable behavior you should never encourage anyone else to do so, or suggest ridiculous things to minors (Too Short). Do I think it’s fair to put pressure on celebrities to lead straight and narrow lives to appease the images we want them to hold of them? Not at all.
Being a role model is an awesome responsibility that many are not cut out for and few have the ability to live up to. Do you consider every leader in your community a role model? What about executives on your job? Sure, tons of people take direction from these figures and look to them for guidance but when you think about the positive context in which the term role model is used, it’s a title we don’t bestow upon ordinary, everyday people hastily. They have to earn it. So why should celebrities be any different?
At some point we all have to take responsibility for ourselves and the influences we succumb to. And when it comes to adolescents and teenagers, it’s up to their parents to set appropriate examples of who to emulate and who to excuse. As someone who never got into celebrity worship, I’ve never expected anything more from the actors and musical artists I am a fan of to do anything more than entertain me. Sometimes they do it with their personal lives, but I only expect it from their professional ones. Sure, sometimes the things they do off-camera or off-screen disappoint me, but that’s likely because I created an image in my head of who they were in lieu of the ability to really get to know who they actually are. And that’s why a celebrity could never be a role model to me. I don’t know enough about them.
If you want to model your career off of a famous person who’s made it big in an industry with a talent you share or wear a design some singer rocked, go for it. But when it comes to romance, relationships, and the things that matter when the paparazzi are gone, it’s not up to an entertainer to lead you in the way that you should go unless they’ve demonstrated they want to because they have their fans best interest at heart and they have a lifestyle that’s worth modeling. Otherwise you’re on your own—as you should be.
Do you think fame automatically makes celebrities role models?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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When I was growing up in the late 80’s we had decent role models to look up to. Whether we wanted to be like Mike or Cliff Huxtable we had some decent folks to idolize. Nowadays what do the kids have, skinny jean wearing cokeheads telling them to do anything and everyone. Here are a couple of self-proclaimed role models who need to take a seat.
So this morning, I was reading one of the gossip sites and happened upon a blurb about Amber Rose appearing on the cover of some magazine. And that got me thinking: why is she famous again?
I mean I get that she was once the woman, who Kanye West trophied around on his arm to award shows and red carpet events but really, hasn’t she expired past her 15 minutes of fame yet? Others have wondered about that too and in a recent interviews, when confronted about her sudden and unexplained rise to stardom, Rose took exception to the notion that she’s only famous because of who she’s dated. “Kanye was engaged to a girl, he was with a girl for six years…She went to fashion week with him, was photographed everywhere with him, pretty much the same kind of relationship we had, but she didn’t become famous. No one cared about her.” Well, she does have a point.
Amber is a stunning, high-yellow beauty with an hourglass shape that most women – and some men – would kill for. And because of her physical attributes, Rose and her platinum-blonde dome are everywhere. Even after we discovered that she could actually speak and wasn’t just a human-like robot created out of one of West’s dark twisted fantasies, we had been inundated with her image on television and film, on the radio and even in Africa. Overexposed is an understatement. There is nothing left of her, which remains a mystery. Not even her vagina, which we have visited from more angles than should be allowed without first buying a copy of Hustler.
Despite it all, I really don’t have a huge problem with Rose – per se – and in fact, I kind of like her. Not only is she a fellow Philly girl but she has also managed to go from former exotic dancer, aka stripper, to an international well-paid sex symbol, much in the same vein of Kim Kardashians, Coco (Ice-T’s wife), and all the way back to Marilyn Monroe. All these women began their careers on dubious circumstances.
While the mention of Rose, as well as any of these similarly sex-positive ladies, seems to bring forth a lot of very hostile, even derogatory reactions from folks, consider that in some ways, she is the real life manifestation of the unabashedly feminine, extroverted, sexual being to which we all secretly want to be.
But I would be remised if I didn’t mention what troubles me most about Rose. No better instance highlights my concerns than the case of the 14-year old girl, who ironically is also named Amber. You see, after I perused through the gossip site, I went over to my Twitter page, where I began reading tweets about Young Amber, who was video taped at school, in front of a audience of young boys, giving…ahem…blow jobs outside and on the steps of her Atlanta-based middle school.
Not much is known about this young girl, other than speculation that her sexual act had been outed by the recipient of the oral copulation, an ex-boyfriend, who she was desperately trying to “win” back. But now the video of this transgression, as well as young girl’s full name and face have become fodder for the internet. Songs have been made, celebrities have chimed in and her name became not one, but three trending topics on Twitter. Ironically none of the “young men” in the video have been outed or even named, just Ms. Amber.
When I was younger, I admired Whitney Houston. Although Whitney eventually took a turn for the worst (that’s another story), in her younger years, she was poised, talented, intelligent, and beautiful. As I grew older, I admired the women on A Different World. Although a lot of the admiration stemmed from my anticipation to one day be a “Hillman” student at the fictitious school, there was still a part of me that admired the intelligence of Kimberly Reese, the classiness of Whitley Gilbert, and the free spirit of Freddie Brooks.
There were many other women, outside of the women in my family, who I admired, and they all possessed many of the same traits: they were successful, intelligent, classy, and strong. In my eyes these women were what I aspired to be. That was then. Now images of these women are replaced by vulgar pop figures and overnight reality celebrities.
My role models as a young girl wouldn’t appeal to most young girls today. While some argue that there is a lack of positive black female role models, there really isn’t. However there is a lack of admiration for these figures today as there was in the past. Instead of wanting to be the independent woman who makes her own money and attempts to remain a lady in the process, many young girls are idolizing the women with no identifiable career, whose claim to fame is their attachment to a man. Strength is confused with vulgarity or a “I do what I want to do” attitude, even if it means taking one’s clothes off; and success is no longer linked to hard work.
The rise of reality television has jaded the images of positive black women. Instead we’re glorified for the bickering and backbiting and admired for the superficial qualities that may often come in the form of the longest hair extensions and the latest handbags. In the assorted mix of women on television or in the public eye, somehow the Michelle Obamas are less appealing to many young girls. Instead, it’s surprisingly more attractive to become a Basketball Wife.
While this isn’t a knock at any woman’s hustle or chosen career, it is slightly disappointing when society neglects to acknowledge the women who have climbed their way up the corporate, social, or political ladder through determination and hard work, and instead expose us to the women whose success is largely attached to the celebrities they’ve slept with or the hefty child support or alimony check that affords them a superstar lifestyle.
Our society idolizes superficiality and disregards the traits that once made a woman admirable. There really isn’t a decline of positive black female role models. In fact, the positive black female may be just as prevalent as ever. It’s not that they’re not there, but the admiration for them has decreased.
Do you think there is a decline in the black female role model?
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TAP correspondent Eno Alfred takes it to the streets of Manhattan and asks: who is your business role model?