ColorofChange.org, and advocacy group whose mission is to "strengthen Black America's political voice," is publicly admonishing Bravo and Andy Cohen for building their hugely successful TV franchises like Real Housewives of Atlanta, Married to Medicine, and Blood, Sweat, and Heels by airing the women in constant conflict.
Physical fighting is a regular occurrence on many of Bravo's most popular of shows, but ColorofChange.org's Arisha Hatch argues that the network promotes particularly demeaning and stereotypical images of Black women.
In a statement, she said
Violence involving Black cast members has become a reliable ratings boost for Bravo. Prior to last season's reunion show altercation, major brawls on shows like The New Atlanta and Married to Medicine were aired with much fanfare, hyped up as must-see television events.
Bravo is not at the mercy of the behavior of the casts of its shows. Reality TV producers routinely utilize staged, hostile environments and specific editing strategies to conjure the story they wish to tell. We demand Bravo and Andy Cohen turn away from these stereotypical narratives, and stop profiting from violence involving Black people.
Judging by recent reports of yet another massive brawl during taping for the upcoming season of Bravo’s Blood, Sweat, and Heels, it seems there’s no end in sight for Bravo’s reliance on dangerous stereotypes. During that fight, between Black castmates Geneva Thomas and Melyssa Ford, a bottle was reportedly smashed over Ford’s head, sending her to the hospital. Thomas has since been arrested. Under no circumstances should Bravo air this or any other fights involving Black people.
Stereotypical portrayals of Black people -- as angry, belligerent, and violent -- are dangerous, shaping negative perceptions in the minds of viewers that, when acted upon, can mean real life harm for Black communities; discriminatory hiring practices, less attention from doctors, and harsher treatment by law enforcement, just to name a few. Bravo and Andy Cohen must move beyond these harmful, one-dimensional portrayals.
Hatch isn't wrong. Fights bring in lots of viewers and Bravo, of course, knows this. The question is whether these depictions of Black womanhood are extraordinarily egregious and exploitative.
Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster