The movie Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners was released a few weeks ago. I found the movie to be very well done and inspiring. The footage from the past demonstrated extremely articulate, thoughtful, political speeches. Angela Davis herself, of course, was a force to be reckoned with. Her background and education prepared her for the civil rights turmoil that she lived and became a pivotal in. I was extremely proud, especially as a woman of color, to watch not just Angela Davis, but also her sister and her support group, remain composed and collected in a time of such irrational hatred. A time when a sitting president jumped on the bandwagon to label and publically convict a black woman that threatened the ideology of the time. And perhaps because the social inequality was so tangible, so was the commitment and dedication to take a dignified stand toward its end.
Bravo released a new show called Married to Medicine, to much uproar and condemnation. Not to go into the racist history of blacks in entertainment. The stark contrast between Free Angela Davis and this reality TV show is overwhelmingly sad. It’s no surprise that Bravo wanted to capitalize on its prior success of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, which I think is Bravo’s most watched and successful RH series. The Atlanta housewives consist of a predominantly black cast of women that are in a constant state of bickering or threatening physical assault. In keeping with the same formula, Married to Medicine has an even thinner veil as it was obviously contrived to get more black women on the screen to carry on. I have caught one episode of the show, and in all honesty, I felt strong despair. Two grown women were filmed getting into a fistfight at a cocktail party. Recognizing that these shows are scripted, what would make someone want to represent themselves so poorly on TV, for the entire world to see their lack of self-esteem or self-respect?
While we have made significant advances in our civil rights, I wonder if we haven’t been lulled into a false sense of security. Without an obviously urgent cause, we have fallen behind in the progress those that came before us sacrificed so much to achieve. Women like Angela Davis were forced to forfeit their freedom to fight for our rights. But her conviction inspired a cross-cultural wave of support. Watching Married to Medicine makes me think of a sugar coated antic filled ridicule of black women who have forgotten what we fought so hard to overcome. I can’t blame the networks for capitalizing the lowest common denominator. I’m just sad that they found women with such low self-esteem to put on the show.