By Kiarra Solomon
Reality TV has become an obsession of sorts, especially in the African American community. Love and Hip Hop, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Bad Girls Club, Basketball Wives and the list goes on and on. VIBE Magazine recently crowned the stars of some of these shows “Our New Role Models”. These are role models who fight, scream, get drunk and pass out, are arrested or are involved with men who frequently do the same (very few Basketball Wives or Real Housewives are actually wives).
The sad fact is that outside of these reality shows, young women of color have very few positive role models in media, partly because sex and violence has become cool and acceptable on television. And while it is most entertaining to watch the “train wreck” we call reality television, in reality, the effect these types of shows have on our young women is severely detrimental.
Lacey Clark, Founder of Sisters’ Sanctuary hosted Phenomenally U: Three Candid Conversations about Sex, Self- Respect and Success in the Reality TV Era. This discussion, which was focused mostly on father/daughter relationships, took place at Jill Scott’s Blues Babe Foundation on Saturday June 30th.
The male panelists (Aalim Elitou, Yumy Odom, Kenyatta Henderson, Carvin Haggins and Anthony Howard) are all fathers from the community with the desire to urge young women to defeat the ideals portrayed on television.
“I understand that in order to help my daughters, I have to help you. If there is one group that brings down people of color more than any other group it is people of color. The same is true for women”, said panelist Aalim Elitou, father of popular teen fashion blogger Tweety Elitou.
Attendees also got the opportunity to preview Lacey’s upcoming documentary “In search of my Phenonmenal”, a series of interviews with young ladies and parents to examine their ideas and ultimately the effect of reality TV. One of the young lady who was interviewed discussed her “obsession” with the reality shows Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, and then, how at the age of 16 she found herself pregnant.
“This is something that I will continue to do. Because I understand the need for it”, Clark said to her audience. Yes, it is clear that these sorts of conversations must take place in our communities in order to combat what is being portrayed by society. As one mother who attended put it: “We must teach them the difference between reality and reality TV, before we raise a generation of women who are too easily deluded.”
Lacey Clark is the author of Celebrate Her Now. You can find out more about her upcoming events and view clips from her upcoming documentary at www.teen-girl-self-esteem.com.