Commentary: Are Reality Shows Ruining Black Female Friendships?

We should and can have healthy bonds with each other. 

Posted: 04/29/2014 03:56 PM EDT
Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion

As the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) wraps up its sixth year with a somewhat violent and outrageous season, it's clear that backstabbing, cattiness and physical altercations are still very much a part of reality show Black female friendships. (Just ask Kenya’s weave after getting dragged across the floor by Porsha or the water-throwing spectacle between NeNe and her former friend Marlow.)

Now in fairness, RHOA isn’t the only reality show to depict triflin’ female relationships of color. Thanks to Basketball Wives (all of them), The Bad Girls Club and Love & Hip Hop (Atlanta and New York) to name a few, we’ve seen friendships turn completely adversarial and violent overnight. Sadly, most of the time over stuff that was never that damn deep.

Think: Did Jennifer really deserve that infamous whooping over lunch by Evelyn?

And I am not saying we should stay in unhealthy relationships. I can be the first to admit that over the years, I have ended certain friendships because I wasn’t getting what I wanted: Mutual respect, shared values, love and support. But never following a real dramatic fallout (most of the time), and later there are no hard feelings.

I could see them and be cordial.

But the type of fractured friendships and ill behavior seen on reality shows as of late has been downright shameful. Not to mention hurtful — hence why I had to stop watching these types of shows. And yes, I get that these are just television shows, meant for mindless entertainment, but as years passed in consuming this stuff, I noticed that it was killing my spirit. I would finish watching these shows and feel awful about myself and what I was seeing.

But these on-screen relationships were also warping my own perception of my own female friends. I found myself being more suspicious of my own bonds. Trusting them less and allowing for little things to really get under my skin, in ways that I hadn’t before. And for someone who had always valued my friendships with women, especially Black women, I refused to let my life imitate their “art.”

It's sad, because we live in a racist and sexist world that tears us down every day. They say we are not pretty enough, light enough, smart enough or worthy enough. We are deemed too loud, angry, unlovable, emasculating, not submissive enough... And I had to realize that the best way to combat this unkind world is with our strong bonds with one another.

So many of my friendships have changed and saved my life, validated me and made me a better person. I think about the countless laughs over brunch, the drunken Friday nights closing down Freedom Party in New York's Chinatown, the Sunday afternoons at Habana Outpost in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, all of the tears we have wiped away over broken relationships, lost jobs and sick loved ones. From all the babies being born, the weddings we have stood up in and the crazy road trips we have taken. 

And no matter how messy it gets, I could never imagine my world without my fabulous women in my life. And hopefully, unlike some of the women we see on reality TV, I will never have to.


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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