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 “Shawty Lo’s new reality show goes against everything our ancestors were lynched, beaten, jailed, and marched for. #PureCoonery

By Amariah S Tyler

Those were my exact thoughts that I tweeted after seeing the news of rapper Shawty Lo’s apparent upcoming reality TV series, All My Babies’ Mamas, which is set to air on Oxygen Television Network. The fact that no one has heard from Shawty Lo since 2008 doesn’t seem to matter. The popularity of reality shows like Basketball Wives, Real Housewives of Atlanta and Love & Hip Hop in recent years have turned Z-List celebrities into instant D-List stars. I’m guessing the writers and producers at Oxygen said, if you can’t beat em, join em, and decided to join in the rat race, alongside Bravo and VH1, for ratings as well.

It took me a couple of days to actually watch the video of the pilot episode that was floating around out of fear of what buffoonery I would see. Sadly, I was not disappointed. With the tagline, “1 Man, 10 Baby Mamas, 11 Kids”, the episode opens with Shawty Lo giving the audience a brief synopsis of who he is and what he’s known for (which took about 30 seconds), then one by one, the “baby mamas” are introduced. With names such as “The Fighter Baby Mama”, “First Lady Baby Mama” and “Baby Mama From Hell” the women describe themselves and the other mothers who are cast members of the show. Apparently, all of these women, and their children by Shawty Lo, are all living under the same roof. Sigh…

After watching the episode and losing brain cells, there are not enough words to describe my deep disappointment, embarrassment and anger at what this show represents. Here you a have rapper with a lackluster career who is living with all of his children’s mothers, a new girlfriend, combined with enough drama that’ll make you forget that he’s NOT married to any of these women AND that he refused to practice safe sex and use a condom. Here, a man is glorified for being irresponsible and for glamorizing a stigma that has been and continues to be placed on black men and women alike. Not only is this a disgrace and a slap in the face to black culture, but it is also sending the wrong message to black youth as well. Our young women and men are viewing these images and fallacies that are represented on TV as if that is real life and it’s not.

 

There is no glamour in trying to support and provide for your child or children as a single working parent. There is nothing Hollywood about depending on the government for assistance or not being able to track down your child’s father for child support. Everyone is not able to live in a rented house provided by television networks in order to portray a fantasy luxurious lifestyle. Earlier this year, a man by the name of Desmond Hatchett made national news for fathering 30 kids by 11 different women. He was profusely criticized for willingly fathering so many children and also for not being able to make his child support payments. It was only a matter of time before someone thought, “Hey, this make a good reality show.”

 

Having multiple children by several different women is nothing to be proud of. Being classified as a “baby mama” is not cute nor is it anything to aspire to. I don’t care if you do put “First Lady” in front of it. And what about the children? While the parents are seeking fame or free VIP club wristbands, the children are subjected to a home filled with instability, fighting, and God knows what else. Did the writers, producers, and parties involved think of what effect this would have on them? How many ridiculously horrible reality shows filled drama, violence and weak story lines must be created until we take a stand?

Maybe I’m asking too many questions, but it bothers me that these type of shows are just accepted as the norm from the black community. We may shrug, make little comments about how shameful it is, but later tune in, laugh and say things like, “It’s just TV!” while other races are laughing at us and continually placing stereotypes on us—especially black women. Black women are regularly characterized as angry, oversexualized, bitter, single, gold digging, materialistic, multiple baby-having, uneducated and uncouth individuals on TV. There are no more Julias’ or Claire Huxtables’ or the women at Hillman College to look at for inspiration. Black shows with positive images? Those type of shows are cancelled quicker than you can say Reed Between the Lines.

When will it end? When will the black community finally say enough is enough? I commend Sabrina Lamb and others who have petitioned for this travesty not to air. I encourage you to join their cause as well. The black culture gets enough negative attention as it is without adding to it. This article is not merely about Shawty Lo or his children’s mothers’, but what this type of foolery epitomizes. Our ancestors fought to long and hard for us to be able reduced to coon entertainment. You are more than just a “baby mama” or “baby daddy.” You are a Queen and a King. With that said, learn better, expect better, do better, and be better.