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In Hollywood, Why Is Every Black Mother Either Screwed Up or Dysfunctional?

Hollywood’s depiction of Black women typically leaves much to be desired, and its portrayal of black mothers is no exception.

Taking a glance at recent movies gives a clear indication of what little regard the movie industry has for African American mothers.

In “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” the closest representation of a black mother was J-Lo. To add more insult to that injury, her character was in the process of adopting an African baby.

In Uma Thurman’s recent production “Motherhood” there were no black women at all.

Finally, in “I Don’t Know How She Does  It”, again, no black mothers.

So, how are black mothers usually typified in movies?

According to Kimberly Seals Allers, journalist and commentator of African-American motherhood issues, Hollywood black mothers are depicted as “crack heads, single mothers with deadbeat-dad issues, welfare queens, violent, uneducated or as neck-rolling sassy maids and smart-talking fishwives. Alternatively, we are being portrayed by a man. In a fat suit. And a wig…We are rarely seen as nurturing mothers or (gasp!) intentional parents with committed husbands, let alone successful women who don trendy shoes, fabulous handbags and have some of the same romantic-comedy-worthy struggles as any other parent or would-be parent.”

This issue is no different on television, where the depiction of black mothers on reality shows and other programming is far more damaging than their absence on the big screen. The media has much work ahead to accurately portray black mothers in their actual light.

 

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  1. So true. And like you said the mothers that are portrayed on TV are a mess. Keisha Cole mama is a mess, Jim Jones mom is a mess and now we have Lil Scrappy’s mom who use to be a pimp and acts loud and crazy for no reason. People always think black folk are too sensitive, but I think they don’t realize that the images that are put out of us help to form people’s perceptions of us.

  2. hey stop blaming tv and all that these women are the problem to be saying what they put out the problem is these stupid women no one else

  3. What is a fishwife?

  4. Black ppl need to understand “he who controls the image controls the power”. Just like the drug seller who will destroy his own ppl for personal gain, so does the actor-male or female that is willing to accept a negative/stereotypical role for personal gain (money, recognition, future opportunities). In other words the Hollywood game is just like the crack game, ppl sell their soul for a tootsie roll.

  5. What you see on TV does not reflect the number of single mothers in the black community

  6. SOME African-American women act this way, and our teens in school are terrible. We create our own image. So, if this is all we now show the world, this is how ALL of us will be perceived.

    I see many African-American women cleaning up our act, but we have a very long way to go.

  7. Peter D. Slaughter

    How long has this been going on and a vast % of black people
    who watch are tv addicts overall.Black’s have been complaining for years. Still these phony racist’s who run and control this distorted nightmare continue to do what they do.How about some black people organize a week boycott of TV among black people.So instead of TV.black’s can go to church,stay home and pray. Mentor some black kids live in person.Maybe help clean up a real bad dump spot in their local community. I wonder would this work,since so many black people would start to hollering
    ” we’s got to have our TV’s ” we can’t live without them “

  8. This article is over-stereotyping like U.S.conservatives do when they spout nonsense that most African-Americans are addicted to govt.help while the rich of any ethnic group hide their their money from taxes,fight against minimum wage hikes,etc.
    There are crazy,unstable,women in any ethnic group. Tyler Perry depicts a married recovering crack addict on one of his shows.In the past playing a servant was the only way to be in most so-called mainstream US films.I read on Youtube that J-Lo calls her herself 5% black and mostly Taino Indian.Damn some “real colored folks”claim Irish,German,etc.then say “oh yeah”I’m got some black in me too”! Adopt a baby from an African land? Whats wrong with that? Josephine Baker adopted kids of various colors/ethnic groups. Uma didn’t have any “sista mamas”? Ice Cube,Latifah,Martin,Chris Tucker & Chris Rock,Cedric,Denzel,etc.depict African-Americans in their films & Cuba Gooding does too.

  9. Sorry , idonot see what you see. If Uma doesn’t wish to add woman of color this will at least let the woman of color that she claim to like know where she is coming from. Also, I noticed the movie did not put any woman of color but J low and we all know she is representing the Spanish and I’ m surprise she didn’t say a word. We all know every woman in the show noticed woman of powerful color weren’t shown, but Chris was. So hey what can you do, we know who took care of this nation of kids way back when? And Jim Jones mom was cool and any black mom on TV, because if you are going to be truthful they white or whatever are not the best if mom either. They pimp out their daughters or son for a network they have their drugs and they kill there kids and get away with the crime must I continue to point out we all have some great moms and some irresponsible moms too. So next, if people or producers would put out some movies with black woman in and not add that white woman or more moving showing the love we do have in our homes. Where our kids grow up to become great…… I know so many of them I’m one of them….WORD to the writers Martin is for comedy period get a laugh , but where are the stories of black woman and stop putting down what a man dress like a woman is doing to make his paper, at least he is making donation. This is as usual a story to put us down and back at the end of the line. Very few writers are writing about ME a woman of color,a woman of power, a woman of love and in love,a woman of strength, a woman that is happy and so many other joyful words I can say….

  10. Black people are going to have to do like all other groups of people and take control of the image portrayed of themselves. However, this is easier said than done when you have the ones with enough financial means who are more interested in creating something for whites and others and nothing for their own people. It is not this way with other races of people. They decided that they do not want the image portrayed badly and they purchase many channels to portray good images because no one is going to do it for you. Other people especially whites are going to portray you as trash or do just what she did and ignore you altogether.

    I guess when black people quit trying to lick the butt of others and wait for others to lead their culture and promote their culture and themselves as good, then they will get up and do something about it. It really is a shame that black trash gets to make millions by portraying black people as bad and dysfunctional.

    Got to get to doing things for yourself. This is how we made so much progress before. Take control of yourself and that includes your national and public image.

  11. That’s about right. Black Women suck, they do have smart mouthes, they break up their families, and they are an embarrasment. I’m a Black Man and I see it everyday, they love the Welfare! When a Black Women closes her legs, she has no more use. They should be sterilized really!

  12. 1. Hollywood owns everything and could care less.
    2. Black people should have figured that out by now.

    Even when Disney did a “black princess,” she not only was a New Orleans slang-talking “fishwife” restaurateur, but instead of her getting a handsome prince, she was lowered to the status of an amphibian. Her “man” couldn’t come up to her standards, so she kissed him and lowered herself to his. Instead of him being a Prince, she becomes a female frog.

    The day they stop is the day we quit watching and quit buying their supporting products from their advertisers and not a second sooner.

    I still don’t get how Cedric & Niecy or whomever was able to sell that tacky “Soul Man” show to TVLand.

    “Lackofbootymakesyoumooty…” really? Lack of themey makes you schemey.

  13. TRUTH-TELLER not all black women are like that you are wrong…just your mamma for raising an ignorant bastard like you. You are probably bitter because you can’t get a respectable black queen because you are hideous and a loser! So go to the white trash that’s probably the only type of women that would want you!

  14. Cynthia McKinney

    The “N” Word from the Champs Elysée to Avenue of the Americas

    13 June 2012

    The latest Hollywood brouhaha over Gwyneth Paltrow’s decision to tweet the caption “ni**as in Paris for real” to accompany a picture of her with friends Jay-Z and Beyoncé while in Paris doesn’t compare to the new evidence of “fraud upon the Court” that has emerged in a largely unnoticed civil rights case that very well should be reopened after being unfairly dismissed six years ago. How about Hollywood executives regularly referring to their own clients, and Blacks in general, as “niggers,” “niggas,” “coons,” “spooks,” and “monkeys” while they intentionally discriminated against Black concert promoters, putting them out of business? It is the contention of Leonard Rowe, perhaps the best-known and most successful of all Black concert promoters, that the regular use of these words by powerful Hollywood executives is a telling indicator of Hollywood’s pervasively racist attitudes toward Blacks, an attitude that produced illegal trust-like business practices that essentially made Black concert promoters extinct.

    How could these particular Hollywood executives do that?

    According to music industry veterans, once a Black entertainer “crossed over” to a White audience, Black concert promoters were almost never allowed to promote that entertainer again. Moreover, according to Rowe, not once was a Black concert promoter allowed to promote a White entertainer. According to Rowe, this collusion to fix profits effectively denied the Black community the spin-off economy associated with concerts and concert promotions, and the multiplier effect of dollars turning over in the Black community. Someone presented evidence to me that was just presented to District Judge Robert P. Patterson and Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska of the Southern District of New York: a summary of the racially-charged words that were regularly used by these particular Hollywood executives: “nigger,” “spade,” “colored,” “monkey,” “nigga,” “uncle tom,” “spook,” and “coon.” It makes for depressing reading: page after page after page after page, the evidence provided to me shows the last name of the particular executive and the number of times that person used one of the above words in e-mail traffic. It is 18 pages, with two pages mysteriously missing, of heartbreak where specifically the word “nigger” is used hundreds of times. Even more to the point of “fraud upon the Court,” decisions were made in Rowe’s previous case without even a mention of the e-mail evidence. In fact, Rowe was never given the e-mails that produced the 18-page summary sheet although he paid for them. Rowe’s case was dismissed by the Court at Summary Judgment.

    To think that this is the way these Hollywood executives view their African-American clients is not only appalling, but represents more than a virtual throwback to the ignominious days of a Southern Plantation. According to Marcus Washington who worked at William Morris, that company client list has included Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna, Outkast, Trya Banks, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Whitney Houston, Maxwell, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Spike Lee, Janet Jackson, Tyler Perry, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Usher, Halle Berry, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, and Denzel Washington to name a few.

    The evidence of how particular Hollywood executives referred to their own clients is available for anyone interested in seeing it. Just click here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/93697362/Rowe-Entertainment-Inc-v-William-Morris-Agency-et-al-98-8272-Breakdown-of-Racial-Epithets-Including-Nigger-Used-By-Execs-Email-Search-Re

    And who exactly are these particular Hollywood executives? Rowe’s lawsuit is against The William Morris Agency (now known as William Morris Endeavor) and Creative Artists Agency, the biggest and the baddest of the bunch. (And adding political muscle to this tawdry script, William Morris Endeavor is currently headed by Ari Emanuel, brother to the former Chief of Staff of President Obama and now Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.) For many aspiring Black entertainers, signing with these agencies represents a dream come true. Too bad that this new evidence brought forward in the Leonard Rowe case shows how these agencies truly feel about African Americans when they think no one is watching.

    Sadly, Leonard Rowe is not the only witness to Hollywood’s institutional racism. Marcus Washington, with whom I have spoken, has his own sordid tale of life while employed at Hollywood’s titan–The William Morris Agency. In published reports on the internet, Marcus, acting as his own lawyer, filed a $25 million lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in December 2010. Among the many details in his 80-page complaint, Washington said that upon his entry into William Morris’ New York office in September of 2008, there were zero Black, zero Latino, and only one Asian-American Agent employed out of an executive staff of 50. Washington wrote that he was the only Black hired into the Agent Trainee program and while he had recently graduated from the University of Miami with his Masters in Music Business and Entertainment Industries and helped co-manage the career of J Records singer/songwriter and now eight-time GRAMMY® nominated artist Jazmine Sullivan, all of his White counterparts advanced above him having considerably fewer academic achievements and less professional work experience.

    According to Washington, William Morris immediately sought to have Washington’s case compelled into arbitration because of an arbitration agreement Washington signed as a condition of employment. Washington argued that the provision which stated that “any issue” including ones of “discrimination” and “retaliation” were to be arbitrated was “unconscionable, tainted with illegality and malum in se” given the historical evidence presented to the Court showing the company’s 113-year history of systemic disparate treatment towards Blacks. In July 2011, Washington’s judge ruled in favor of William Morris. In September 2011, Washington appealed to the Second Circuit that his lawsuit against William Morris was erroneously compelled into arbitration, and over the last nine months, Washington has attempted three times to have this decision reversed so that his case can be impartially decided in a public forum by a jury that reflects the diversity of New York City. Each time, the Court has denied his appeal without providing a judicial opinion. Sadly, this industry has been successful at keeping this type of racial discrimination away from the eyes of a jury. But now, after acquiring the new evidence discovered in the Rowe case, Washington filed a motion in the Court to introduce evidence that various attorneys at Loeb & Loeb LLP–the law firm representing William Morris in both the Rowe and Washington cases–as well as judges, have been involved in a corrupt conspiracy to collude and commit “fraud upon the Court.”

    Because of what Rowe felt were unreliable lawyers colluding and conspiring with his opponents’ lawyers, Rowe has joined Washington as a pro se litigant in the Southern District of New York. They both have refiled their cases and they are awaiting decisions from the Court. This time around, the Southern District Court of New York has the opportunity to do the right thing. Both Rowe and Washington are involved in litigation that could produce landmark Civil Rights decisions. Both of them are willing to share the evidence unearthed in the Rowe case that could deal a devastating blow to “business as usual” in the entertainment industry.

    Leonard Rowe and Marcus Washington are available, together or individually, for interviews to explain their firsthand experiences with Hollywood, racism, or corruption in the U.S. justice system.

    Leonard Rowe can be reached at roweentertain@aol.com
    Marcus Washington can be reached at humanrights.areamust@gmail.com

  15. I’m confused. There are several African-American woman doing their thing on TV. Media Mogul Oprah Winfrey, Sherri Shepherd of The View, Whoopi Goldberg of The View, Aisha Tyler on The Talk, Tyra Banks America’s Next Top Model, Shaunie O’Neal Basketball Wives (once they get it together). Kerry Washington “Scandal” (phenomenal). Robin Roberts “Good Morning America”. I love Tyler Perry and I love what he does for the African-American community. Say what you want – but I love his movies and Madea is funny. Don’t let Hollywood depict who you are – there African-American women doing their thing. And I applaud them.

  16. @ Princess P:

    Don’t forget to add Jada Pinkett-Smith in Hawthorne which no one supported. We get angry by the imagery however, we tune in to all the stereotypes! If you brought up the subject of BBW everyone will have an opinion but the women that you’ve mentioned and the Hawthorne series fade by because they’re not passing the garbage test.

  17. Princess P is obvioiusly not reading, and she supports coonery bafoonery…simple minds like that stuff. I see nothing funny or even remotley entertaining about a 6’5 man dressing up as a terrible looking old lady…The Effeminization of Black Men read that Princess P and come out of your fairytale world please. We need smart productive intellectual women not simple minded TV and movie lovers, start building with your sisters and stop idolizing them in these stupid shows…they should be running for congress or ecoming scientists or something rather then a movie star. It seems thats all succesful Black women are, 2nd rate actresses who dont even when oscars for their “phenomenal” roles.

  18. Maybe African-American people should stop promoting and watching negative images of African-American women or mothers on television, instead of so many rushing to watch the latest Love & Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, and so forth, rather than complain that OTHER PEOPLE aren’t promoting positive images?

    What images are YOU endorsing?

  19. Not all black women are nuts but alot of them are lol, but i would never give up on them because we come from the same struggle.

  20. @ Truth Teller, I am very disheartened that you think so low of the blk female. It is really sad that you have grouped all blk women in the same boat. I will not result to the name calling because that is not necessary.
    I can sit here and downgrade the blk man by saying; blk men break up their own home by have multiple baby mommas, not supporting his children. Criminal records, un or under educated. Drug dealers or users,just to say a few but, not all blk men fall in that line.
    Not all blk women are nuts, just as there are some bad blk women there are some bad white women.
    When a blk female express herself they are labeled as being hostile, but the white female can do the same thing and she will be viewed in a different light as sensitive….

    • @Dee hold’nherown,

      I really like your handle, it implies that one should hold her own, very nice. However, have you ever heard the term, “No man is an island? Well neither is a woman. There have been many strong Black women that I have admired and tried to befriend, however, what I found out was that they would suck in that admiration and use it for all it was worth to suck the life out of someone that they considered weaker. Then they took those weaknesses, and magnified or twisted them exploiting them to their advantage to make sure that that so called weaker “sister” would stay at the bottom of the heap to further exploit those same weaknesses. However, what she may not realize is that she had inadvertently revealed some weaknesses or illegalities of her own. But at some point I’m sure that will not matter, depending on how skilled she is at working the system or making deals. I’m just curious, have you or anyone else run into someone like that. I feel that if we are going to heal ourselves as a people that we need to recognize our own flaws in order to get well, if that is the goal.

  21. It would be great if we spend less time feeding into so-called negative stereo-types—- we should be secure in our own DIGNITY, what ever our seemly circumstances appear to be to others……PEACE!!!

  22. Maybe we as a people need to stop worrying so much about how “THEY” portray us and start worrying more about rebuilding our communities. Think about what their goal is. To keep us debating over the same fruitless issues i.e. how we can look better in their eyes. That is the point, they don’t want us to look good. So shouldn’t we adjust our focus? There are some Black women who look crazy and act loud. What do our own people do when we see such a person? We immediately scorn her because we think she makes us look bad. Then she is left to flounder on her own because all we are concerned about is our own image. Do we even care about what made her this way? Obviously not, yet we pretend to be concerned about our communities. Who is benefiting from this neglect? Maybe we should look in the mirror and think about why we want to run as far away from this person in need as we can. I bet if we become more concerned about helping that person in need, we will be less concerned about why “THEY” don’t like us.

  23. Truth Teller, to tell the truth, I am disgusted by your comments. I don’t know whether you are Black or white, nor does it matter. The point is some Blacks as well as whites make a profit from destroying the image of the Black woman. And if by chance that Black woman is not equipped to fight against an entire Empire, she is considered weak and crazy and deemed as a throw away. This is the height of insanity. If you really want to tell the “TRUTH”, then why don’t you tell the “TRUTH” about why you feel the way you do about Black women. Is it out of ignorance, or hatred or profit or because you just don’t care? Do you know the “TRUTH” of the circumstances of each and every Black woman? Or are you just spreading the lies and rumors that “THEY” want people to think? Just to keep this debate constantly in the forefront of everybody’s imagination? This is a subject that certainly sells because everybody is so quick to jump on the bandwagon against our image. It certainly leaves us isolated and untouchable. Which I believe is the ultimate goal. So if a Black woman has a loud mouth or a mental breakdown, who can honestly place all of the blame on her? Maybe someone wishing to deny any part in contributing to her anguish? I don’t know, I would be happy if you could grace me with some of your profound wisdom. You seem to know so much about the subject.

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