Thursday, February 20, 2014

You Stink || Why I L-O-V-E "Being Mary Jane"

Being Mary Jane ||
"Being Mary Jane" on BET

Black women like to pretend that our shit doesn't stink.

But it does. Just like every other human being on this earth.

I love Being Mary Jane because it shows women of color as human beings. The ups, the downs. The good AND the bad. The glorious successes, and the hot ass messes. ALL OF IT. 

BMJ requires that you check your respectability politics at the door. It reminds you that Claire Huxtable took a fart, and that Michelle Obama thought long and hard about how she could possibly mother Sasha and Malia in the White House before she told Barack it was okay to follow through on his Presidential hopes. Or maybe she didn't? And she had to figure that ish out on the fly. For all of that, BMJ also reminds us that Michelle thought long and hard about pressing pause on her own career to stand by her man and be First Lady. I mean, what brilliant career woman wants to be the national trophy wife? BMJ reminds us that for all the good love and spirits and gift giving Oprah puts into the world she probably made some unsavory business decisions to get where she is. It reminds us that our mothers are not the flawless amazing superheros that we would like to make them out to be, but that doesn't mean we love and honor them any less.

Yes, mama's can do wrong. Sisters can do wrong. Aunties and friends can do wrong. We, black women can do wrong. And that is okay. Because we are human.

BMJ is not for every one, and this whole "I am Mary Jane..." advertising campaign they have going has me raising a side eye after every episode.


Because I am not Mary Jane. Mary Jane is not, and should not be a representative for all black American women. Every public image of a black woman does not and should not hold the weight of this particular race + gender + nationality combo.

I am Sydnie Liana. No one else. And yes, while my skin is brown, I subscribe to my gender's norms, and I am the descendant of slaves in this country - my personal life experiences are by no means emblematic of us all.

So this is my charge: Black women keep telling your stories, no holds barred.

I know that there are reasons respectability politics exist. REALLY GOOD REASONS. Basically every unsavory or misunderstood thing a black woman has ever done since we got off the slave ship has been held against her in the public eye. BUT, we will not ever be seen as individuals unless we keep telling our stories in numbers -- with all the nuance, flaws and imperfection that is required of living a human life.

Mara Brock Akil is doing her part. I'm attempting to do my part on this blog (though how much I publish about my personal life is an HONEST struggle.) Now, it's time to do yours... and remember, it's okay if you stink. Every body does.


Alexandra Joye Houston said...

Great post Syd! This show is a train wreck of a story, a tragedy really. It's hard to watch but it keeps pulling me in because even though there's not one likable character in the bunch, I still want to know what will be their fate.
But the reality is there are so few African American true Dramas on television its hard to watch with out the funny joke before the commercial break. We've had to tell our drama wrapped up in comedies like Girlfriends, The Game, etc. To see this antihero, beautifully conflicted woman who is everything many women fear (successful but relationship challenged) and yet everything many women want to be (wonderful career and beautiful) its thought provoking and I can appreciate that. I am definitely NOT Mary Jane, but I also want to hear her story.

SLMDances said...

Thanks for your comment Alex! It is true - we should be able to have anti-heros. I sit watching hollering at the screen "you idiot!" But i also am watching because the conflicts are so real. Some things happen and ive been there or my sister has been there and that's life. And it is wonderful to see that on tv.

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