By James Clingman
The latest negative programming coming from the dominant media is a ridiculous show about a Black guy who has 11 children by 10 different women. “All My Babies Mamas” was planned for the coming season, but now it may be completely scrubbed, mainly because of a sister, Sabrina Lamb, sent out a petition protesting the show in the most serious manner. I say kudos to Ms. Lamb and others who have spoken out against this nonsensical and degrading show; I wish the same fate for some of those other so-called reality shows.
You can do your own research on the content and intent of the show if you are interested in that sort of thing. For now, I want to talk about the economic implications of it. As you should well know, beneath everything lies economics. First off, we know that no profit-minded business person would intentionally insult its customers by doing something to drive them away, right? So why would Oxygen Media even attempt to put this show on the air? For that matter, why do any of the other networks put the same kind of insulting and demeaning shows on the air?
That answer is quite simply: “Profit.” If we were not watching these stupid shows and not salivating for more and more outlandish depictions of Black folks on TV, they’d all be gone tomorrow. We love this stuff, and the producers are staying up at night trying to develop more. While we may complain about how they disrespect us (Or is it really how we disrespect ourselves?) we will jump on whatever bandwagon that comes along, no matter the content. So it’s certainly no surprise that Oxygen decided to put “Babies Mamas” on the air because they think it’s what we want to watch.
I recently read about two Black radio stations, one that’s been around for more than 42 years, that were bought by Koreans and the stations went from soul music to Seoul music overnight. Remember, it’s all about the money, and as Nino Brown once said, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”
The Black consumer market is a veritable goldmine, and it seems everyone knows that but Black folks, at least everyone profits from it except Black folks. This latest insult by the media reminds me of an article I wrote a few years ago, “The Answer to Media Bias is Media By Us.” Until we decide to do what Sabrina Lamb and others are doing, and until we mount a concerted and sustained effort against our own “ignant” brothers and sisters who perpetuate the “baby mama” and “baby daddy” nonsense, we will always be nothing more than profit margins for the latest fads and any stupid TV show that comes along.
Ownership is the key. Media owned by us, and by “us” I mean conscious brothers and sisters who will not stoop to producing the trash we see now, is the appropriate response to the trash we see and hear in the media today. If you don’t own anything, you are always at the mercy – and the whims – of those who do.
As you read this, Bob Law, noted radio talk show host and one of the most informed brothers in the industry, is mounting a campaign to bring Black radio back up to the level of respect and intelligence it once knew. He writes, “In our initiative there are two levels of responsibility, holding corporations responsible for the inequality that contributes to the conditions in Black communities, and the Black community’s responsibility to change and correct those conditions.”
So always remind yourself of the role we play in the media, especially on the negative side. If we would not accept the trash they throw at us, it would not be thrown at us. If we stand up and let corporations and media outlets know that we will use our collective economic leverage against them by withdrawing our money from their products and refusing to watch and listen to their nonsense, we would at least have a fighting chance to change things in our favor.
You can start by signing Sabrina Lamb’s petition and the online petition that change.org is circulating. Then you can turn all that mess off your TV’s and radios. You will notice that I have not even mentioned the guy’s name that has all the babies by all the “mamas.” That’s another step we can take. Don’t even give the recognition of calling their names. And always remember, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.