My fellow Americans:
I, like many of you, watched in complete horror last night as a cable network debuted yet another reality drama based on black life as it purportedly unfolds in the ATL. I will refrain from mentioning the name of this show because if you saw it then you already know what I’m referring to and if you didn’t then I do not wish to entice or encourage you to seek it out. In fact, the more that I reflect on my feelings about what I witnessed yesterday evening, the more I realize that my disgust lies not just with that particular show alone, but with the way that the city which was once a symbol of black progress is now being portrayed in the media as a whole.
Series after series I have watched with great chagrin as popular reality TV franchises select the jewel of the south to lift the veil of mystique behind the city’s affluent and create what ultimately amounts to a ratings bonanza for the networks and a cash windfall for the producers.
Time after time, executive producers from L.A. and New York, where I currently reside- bring their camera crews and A/V techs into our city to create what inevitably amounts to the Jerry Springer equivalent of the franchise’s northern counterparts. A series that historically featured the diamond encrusted lives of wealthy spouses debuted an Atlanta version of the series where the wealth was elusive and spouses were no longer a requirement. More recently, a show about popular entertainers and the women who love them premiered an Atlanta-based installment where the term popular was subjective and women suggested that other women should be put “on the track,” a prostitution reference that is particularly damaging for a city that is already noted for being one of the largest hubs for child sex trafficking in the world. To put it mildly I was offended. To state I plainly, I was aghast.
How is it that a city which was once the crowning jewel in the story of black America has allowed itself to be positioned as the melting pot of black affliction? The Atlanta that I knew and grew up in was one of great pride and self-respect. Our achievements were known across the globe, as people from far and wide would often respond, “Wow, I hear that black people are really doing their thing down there,” when I would tell them I’m from Atlanta. Today that assertion is often met with “Yoooo….I hear Atlanta’s got them bangin’ strip clubs.” …Really?!?
So for those who seem to have forgotten who we really are, I’d like to offer a brief REALITY check on the Real Black People of Atlanta: