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Braxton Family Values

Source: Dave Kotinsky / Getty

What exactly will it take for the Braxton sisters, and Ms. E, to stop doing Braxton Family Values? I get that the check is probably needed and it can be a good platform to showcase what they’re working on, but at what cost? They would be lying if they tried to act as though being on the series hasn’t greatly exacerbated their issues with one another.

Most recently, as in Wednesday, Tamar Braxton unfollowed all of her sisters and even her mother on Instagram after the release of sneak peek trailer for Season 7 of the show. She is sparsely featured in the clip, but the news of her recent suicide attempt is prominently captured. At the end of the trailer, Toni is filmed getting the news of Tamar’s crisis, and almost all of the other sisters speak in confessionals about hearing of their baby sister’s situation. Considering that Tamar said feeling exploited and mistreated by WE tv was a big factor behind her attempt to overdose on pills and alcohol in July, she was not happy to find that the network used her experience as part of a storyline for this upcoming season since she’s barely featured in it. She made that known on Twitter. But she also alluded to her feelings about her sisters being somewhat complicit in that while responding to a fan who thought they were still shooting the show when she had her suicide attempt.

“No pumpkin they wasn’t. it’s ALL re staged for tv. And that’s my fckn issue,” she wrote on Twitter. “Remember @wetv said we have parted ways in August. I am no longer employed by them and they are STILL using me and my hurt to make a coin. What show talks about old cast members?”

Perhaps her belief that her sisters willingly shot new scenes to share their feelings about the sensitive situation was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tamar. And I’m not going to lie, I get it. If she no longer wanted anything to do with WE tv, maybe she hoped that her sisters wouldn’t discuss her or help them use her hospitalization as a way to get viewers. Maybe they weren’t aware of her desire to part ways with the network in a way that would allow her to not even be discussed, but they did know she was fed up with the way she had been portrayed. A message sent before her suicide attempt solely to family detailed her very apparent distress over the matter.

“I am a slave. I do not own my life. My stories. My pictures. My thoughts or beliefs,” she wrote. “I’ve asked my massa to free me. I’m threatened and punished for it. The only way I see out is death. I will choose that before I continue to love (sic) like this. Please help me.”

That message was somehow made public following her hospitalization by the way.

Braxton also sent an email that was leaked to WE tv after they tried to reach out to staff and talent from their projects to address the social unrest that followed George Floyd’s death. She took the network to task for what she considered the unfair ways they treated and portrayed Black people, particularly her family. She claimed they opted to paint the Braxtons in the worst light and in turn, help create dysfunction between them, all while underpaying them.

“We fight with each other, we betray each other, and now we’re physically assaulting each other — all happening because your show [‘Braxton Family Values’] has chosen to show the absolute worst side of a strong, independent and successful African American family; a show that I created to showcase a strong Black Family as a beacon of hope for all the young black girls and boys out there; instead you coached and cajoled us into finding the worst in each other,” she wrote.

In the vein of her message to her family, she told those at the network that they were like “cruel white slave masters who once chained our forefathers, and the oppressive police forces that now terrorize our communities” before adding, “I hope those ratings were worth it because you succeeded in destroying a great black family.”

“I can’t but remember the day you drove that final stake into the heart of my family and separated us, maybe forever!” she continued. “It was the day you dug up a secret I’d never shared with anyone, a secret I was so ashamed to talk about that I hid it even from my own mom: the fact that I had been assaulted and raped repeatedly from Age 6 to age 16, sometimes multiple times a day. You dug up the secret and exposed it on your show in front of my entire family and 100 crew members. You broke me that day and I considered ending my own life then for the shame I felt!”

“I’ve been broken, I’ve been beaten, I’ve been raped, and I have been abused repeatedly as a child and as an adult; but of all those experiences, this is the most traumatic; the fact that I feel like I’m a Slave to you,” she added. “I feel like I can’t breathe. Like you suffocate me. Like I need some oxygen. I feel like I can’t breathe and you are slowly killing me!”

But Tamar isn’t alone in being hurt. We see it in Traci. Sometimes in Trina. Towanda. They all know that their relationship as sisters has been in trouble for more than a few seasons now, and no therapy, no family trips or weddings, not even Iyanla Vanzant could fix it.

What could help though, is if they were to all follow Tamar’s lead and move on from Braxton Family Values. The show is not anything like what it started as because the lighthearted energy once displayed has been replaced with never-ending drama between them. It’s not fun to watch anymore as a simply entertaining, maybe feel-good family series, but rather, as a trainwreck at this point. As their previous attempt at a strike proved, they don’t get paid enough for all that they given up for the show in terms of peace and harmony.

With Tamar trying to work on her healing after attempting to take her life due to the stress of everything, this is the time for them to truly unify. And no, not come together to try and get the contracts they feel they’re deserving of, or to bash her ex, but to unify behind each other and save their sisterhood. Rally behind your sister to save her. Rally behind themselves if nothing else to want and seek out better for the sake of their family. At this point, how much worse do they really want things to get, on and off camera, before they do something about it?

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