Review: Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom

Actress Janet Hubert is best known for portraying Aunt Vivian on the 1990s NBC television sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Being a working actress on a popular television show is often presented to the public as a dream come true. Even more so for the African-American actresses (especially dark-skinned ones) who have limited opportunities in Hollywood. In Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom, Ms. Hubert has written a memoir describing the seamy realities involved in working on that particular show, and the toll it took on her life after she was terminated and replaced with another actress.

THE REVIEW

Several words come to mind when I think of the experiences Ms. Hubert describes in her book. Harrowing. Heart-wrenching. Ms. Hubert describes the many ways, large and small, in which Will Smith allegedly sabotaged her career and those of others on that show:

Smith’s contract provided that none of the cast members except him could appear on The Tonight Show during the sitcom’s first season.

Hubert was told to stay in her dressing room after finishing her scenes. This was because she didn’t laugh at Smith’s jokes, and he complained that this made him uncomfortable.

Smith wanted the actors and writing staff to take unsolicited advice about the show from Bill Cosby.

Smith “only gave male directors props” and wanted the cast to “give the brother a shot” when the then-inexperienced-as-a-director Malcolm-Jamal Warner directed an episode of the show.

Meanwhile, Smith openly disrespected and undermined the work of more experienced Black women in the television industry, including a Black woman who had produced Cosby’s show for several seasons.

By the sixth year, Will Smith wanted the entire cast of family characters discarded except for his character and Carlton, and make it more like the show A Different World. NBC refused, and told him to seek a better deal elsewhere. Smith approached CBS, but wasn’t offered a better deal, and returned to NBC.

Hubert was ultimately terminated from the show and replaced with another, (much lighter-skinned) actress. She also describes the long years of career and emotional turmoil that followed her termination from the show. Including the turmoil resulting from her own bad decisions.

Ms. Hubert’s book is a needed antidote to the naive fantasies that so many artists have about the nature of the entertainment industry. Ms. Hubert gives the following good advice near the end of the book:

“Let my experience be a guide for all young women, especially African-Americans, who want to pursue a career in this business called acting. It is only make-believe. Acting doesn’t cure cancer. It will not change the world. So if this is something that you really want to do please learn from my mistakes, and there were many. Hold your tongue, or you may lose it. Only play the game if you can win it, and so few can. Keep a sense of humor no matter what. Sometimes you may have to give up what you really believe in for the sake of a check. Try to have a backup career. I believe that one day people will finally tire of Reality TV and talent will make a comeback. For those of you who long be in the limelight, be wary—while it can be wonderful, it can sometimes be blinding.”

THEME FOR DISCUSSION: THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING YOUR OWN PLATFORM AS A CREATIVE ARTIST

About career strategy, two main points stood out for me as I read Ms. Hubert’s book. First, her naiveté about her work environment. Why didn’t she know that a refusal to brown-nose the male rapper-star of her tv series would have serious negative repercussions on her career? I’m not talking about right or wrong; I’m talking about the reality of working in that industry. If you’re not going to brown-nose, then you need to have a plan to deal with the predictable backlash. You also need to understand that there’s never any guarantee of safety, even if you do brown-nose! Often, African-American artists are so frantic to get onto these tv shows and into these record deals, that they never plan for the possibility that somebody on that show, at that network, in that record company might launch a mission to damage their careers.

The second lesson of her experience is the importance of creative artists working to build their own platforms. We’ve discussed this before in the context of authors, but it applies across the entire entertainment industry. A huge part of what gave Will Smith more leverage is that he came to that show with a preexisting fan base from his career as a rapper. It’s best to work on building a fan base from the beginning of your career. Fans can help blunt some of the industry blows that come an artist’s way. For example, fans can launch campaigns to try to save a tv series; and sometimes it works. The existence of an active, vocal fan base can also help propel an artist’s career to the next level, or free them from having to deal with some of the industry’s “middle men.” Here’s an example of an independent musician who has built a platform for her work.

COMING NEXT IN BOOK REVIEWS

The next book review will feature the ebook, The Feminine Arts of Charm and Charisma, by Melina, blog host of The Art of Being Feminine.

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40 Responses to “Review: Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom”

  1. Didi says:

    I heard about this book a while ago; most people commenting on it at the time described it as a “just another bitter, failed womans story”, or she was envious of Will Smith etc, etc. What I have read here today is much more nuanced and authentic. I have long been uninterested in Smith- I truly find him talentless and a pure Hollywood robot despite his “charm” and sh*t-eating grins.
    To find out how devious he can be should come as no surprise. The state of black talent in Hollywood is appalling and oftentimes the vehicles black actors are “permitted” to star in are just dismal. I am sick of the stereotype of the overweight “sassy” black women who acts a foil for the slim WW to shine or look “sane”. I ask myself – “why do Black actors continue to take on these demeaning roles?” On one level I accept it’s hard out there and people need to put food on the table. But on the other hand perhaps people need to get realistic and take advise from those who have been there, got badly burned and lived to tell the tale. In short- don’t do it, don’t go there! If we as black people cannot create a decent film industry that portrays us with dignity (not in the Tyler perry way) then perhaps we need to find other stuff to do. I rarely watch TV/movies these days because much of it I consider utter rubbish. I especially make a point of NOT watching anything by Perry, Smith, Murphy and their ilk which oddly enough (to others perhaps) includes anything Beyonce Knowles is in. I also refused to watch Precious and similar movies where the ills and sufferings of blacks are portrayed in a manner that further demeans blacks while simultaneously making white people feel “sorry for us” or better about themselves.
    Sorry if my comments/opinions are unpopular Khadija. I am really open to hearing your views on movies like “Precious”.

  2. Karen says:

    I will be blunt. Frankly what Will Smith allegedly did was do what anyone must do if they want to win in such an environment -completely destroy or neutralize any perceived threats or competition.

    He appears to have understood that it is a business and acted accordingly; ruthless.

    Do I admire him for it, no but I do understand it for what it is.

    Khadija raises very important points and it is also vitally important to also have allies and also decide what battles to choose to fight.

    My experience has been in the business world, so I have seen the tactics that Will Smith allegedly demonstrated many times and I have also used various tactics/strategies as the situations required. For me, “my platform” was/is my networking (fan base), my demonstrated performance (my talent), people who can recommend my work (allies)…

    One cannot be naive about any endeavor and there always has to be a “Plan B” (at a minimum).

    As a side note: Ms Huberts story is also a perfect example to demonstrate that we (AAW and AAM) are NOT in this together…

  3. Let me repeat the commenting policy, as explained at the previous blog:

    Thanks for stopping by! {excited waving}

    Please understand that this is not a free speech zone. Profanity and hate speech are not welcome and will not be posted. This blog seeks to foster a courteous, reasoned exchange of ideas.

    I recently (lightly) edited a comment to remove profanity. I won’t do this in the future—I don’t like altering people’s comments by editing them. Any future comment containing profanity will simply be tossed in the trash in its entirety.

    Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

    Let me also note that there’s NO requirement that anybody’s views be in agreement with anybody else’s here, including my views. My only interest is in a “courteous, reasoned exchange of ideas,” and discussing strategies in support of abundant life for African-American women and girls.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  4. JaliliMaster says:

    This story is not new. I remember when I first came across it about a year ago, most of the comments were along the lines of she (Ms Hubert) was just ‘hating’, because he went on to great success and she didn’t. We should all remember that at the time, Will Smith was still relatively young, YET he knew how to play the game. She played her cards, but played all the wrong ones, but I give her credit for the fact that she is, at least, willing to admit that as opposed to it being all about Will Smith INTENTIONALLY sabotaging her career, she also LET it happen. I remember some months ago on another blog, when I made a comment along the lines of not giving any greater support to Will Smith as an actor than I do to any other White Male actors, some deranged Smith fans started foaming at the mouth. I should add that this was at a BW IR blog, and these creatures were ‘Black females’. It seems that whenever a movie comes out by a big Black actor, negroes first of all watch it on bootleg. Then if it is any good, they then decide to pay money to see it again in the cinema. The actor that this is done to the most is Denzel Washington. I’ve noticed that these same negroes don’t seem to have as much a need to pre-determine whether they are willing to spend their money on cinema tickets (as opposed to bootleg versions, WHICH ARE ILLEGAL), when it comes to movies headlined by White actors…….or Will Smith. The same way Whites have taken him as ‘the Black actor they don’t mind spending money to see’, is the same way Blacks have taken him as “the ‘Brotha’ whose ‘talent’ we will treat with as much respect as we do the White actors”. After all, he MUST be great ‘cuz ‘dem Whites just luuuurve him!

    Denzel Washington once gave an interview where he said that at the end of the day, he knew who his fan base were, and they are the ones putting all those millions in his bank accounts. Try watching Mr. Washington’s films over the past few years. Have you not noticed the over representation of Black female characters in all his films. When I say ‘over-representation’ I mean whether as co-stars, smaller speaking roles or even extras. He is probably the ONLY Black male actor who seems to have a willingness to actually support Black actresses. And I don’t mean in the very derogatory and demeaning way done by these other negroes (see that creature otherwise known s Tyler Perry). When was the last time Will Smith starred opposite a Black actress? In fact, when was the last time that Will Smith appeared in any movie that had a Black female character that spoke more than two lines? See where I’m going? His original intention was to star with Cameron Diaz in the film ‘Hitch’. The role ended up going to Eva Mendes. I remember him complaining that he couldn’t act with who he wanted to because the studio heads felt that Black women would not want to watch the film if it starred him opposite a White actress, so they went with someone Latino (I, for the life of me, cannot understand the distinction. Either way, THEY ARE NOT CASTING YOU!!!).

    Look at how the careers of MANY Latina women have been launched on the back of “Big Black male star, can’t put him opposite a WW, doesn’t want to be opposite a BW, so get a Latina”. What Will Smith intentionally chose to ignore was the truth. The reason the studio bosses refused to cast Ms. Diaz in the role was because White people wouldn’t have watched it. But hey, let us insult BW instead. It is the same way that last year, there was that silly ‘controversy’ over some primetime ad that involved that blonde actress that was on Desperate Housewives (Nicolette Sheridan) and the NFL fellow, Tyrell Owens, in a locker room, both of them in towels. The offense was taken by whites, because they didn’t like the setting/scene. But what happened? There were some very foolish AA women who went on t.v, lamenting that the reason so many AA women were offended is because there are so many of them that are single, and seeing this image of an implied sexual attraction between a ‘successful’ BM football player and a WW, hurt their feelings!!! Even the very racist Pat Buchanan had an AA woman on his show, repeating this nonsense. A lot of these white racists know that they can express their distaste/disgust for BM/WW couplings by using BW as their shield/mouthpiece, and it seems AA women still fall for it.

    I remember reading an interview by both Will and Jada Smith. They started going on about how they once asked each other a question: whose/what needs did the other consider the most important in their life. Jada got so angry with Will because he ranked them in this order:
    1. Himself/his career
    2. Their marriage
    3. Their kids
    Jada ranked them thus:
    1. Her kids
    2. Their marriage
    3. Her needs/career

    His reasoning was that as far as he wasn’t happy, or his need were not being met, whether personally, professionally, etc, his marriage was not going to be happy. If he was fulfilled in his own life (note that he was viewing his life as a separate entity to that of his wife and children), there was no way he was going to be able to bring any sort of true happiness to his wife/marriage. And the reason he put his marriage as more important than his kids was that he felt that the best situation in which he could raise his children was in a loving two-parent home. So as far as he was concerned, having a happy marriage would make his kids happy. If he had a not-so-good marriage, it would negatively affect the well being of his children.
    She, on the other hand felt he was being selfish, and he said that she became even more upset when she realised that her anger at his ranking did not make him change his mind about what she considered the most/least important.
    Will Smith then added that most people are this way, putting their needs as more important, and her opinion annoyed him because he had noticed that for Black women, the majority always put what everybody else wants above what they want, even though nobody is doing the same for them. THIS IS WHAT WILL SMITH SAID. He felt that that was the REAL source of her anger. Also note that she practically gave up any chance of having HER OWN illustrious career to take care of their family. She gets a few acting gigs here and there, but she has no acting ‘career’.

    • NijaG says:

      Jada’s reaction is very similar to many women who don’t really understand differences in male-female dynamics and how majority of men view themselves in the world.

      For most men, Will’s ranking is usually how they prioritize their life. I agree with it. I think most men especially when younger rank themselves against their peers and the world at large. Depending on their dreams and goals, they’re very linear focused and externally driven. Their sense of identity and self worth is very much tied into their accomplishments and peer validation. I’m sure women here can attest to situations where a close male (father, brother, Bf/husband, etc) experienced negative circumstances in his work/career and how this usually affected their rlsps with their significant others negatively at least for the short-term until they’re able to get it together or come up with a new or better plan for themselves.

      For most women their views while similar are much more intertwined, circular and influx than men. I think a woman’s priorities changes depending on what stage she is in life. Whether you want to attribute this to evolutionary-biology, socialization or both.

      Career/work is not the ultimate need for most women regardless of what modern western feminist try to say. It just isn’t. Most women want marriage/LT partner and most want children. I think that’s most women’s primary need.

  5. Didi says:

    Oops, sorry I guess that was me who wrote “s***-eating grin”. Duly noted.:-)

  6. Didi,

    No problem about the comment. *smile*

    About that tv show: I didn’t watch that tv show. I found its downright bizarre stereotypes about AAs with money to be extremely offensive. Consider the assumptions about affluent Blacks that are the very premise of that tv show.

    Carlton Banks: If you’re a Black teenager who’s blessed to grow up middle or upper middle class, then you’re an unhip, not-“street smart,” young Black Republican?

    Will (“Fresh Prince”): He’s the only teenager in the bunch that is down to earth, and has a smidgen of common sense and street smarts? He’s the “coolest” one of the bunch? And this is because he grew up in a slum?

    Let’s not even discuss the caricature of the Fresh Prince’s affluent uncle (that he comes to live with) on that show.

    ??? I was also disgusted by the fact that none of this “registered” to most AAs as offensive (and downright bizarre) stereotyping. It wasn’t noticed as being FOUL because this is how modern mass AA culture demonizes affluent AA folks. That is, unless the Black person with money goes out of their way to “prove” that they’re “down.” Which usually involves engaging in dysfunctional “acting Black” behaviors.

    I was annoyed by the replacement of the original dark-skinned actress with a light-skinned actress. Similarly to how I was also annoyed by the insertion of an “extra” light-skinned actress as the oldest daughter into the Huxtable family on The Cosby Show. It’s almost like there’s a quota that there can never be an AA tv family UNLESS they have at least one light-skinned woman/girl. I’m sick of that.

    About Will Smith: I have never cared for him. I didn’t like or respect him or his work at the beginning of his career as a rapper. And I don’t like or respect him or his work now. I’m tired of grinning and skinning AA clowns.

    About Tyler Perry’s mess, Precious and other such toxic waste: I can rant endlessly about the damage that this material is doing—it’s stigmatizing ALL AAs as walking pathologies. So, I’ll try to keep my MANY objections to that mess to a relatively short list here:

    1-That sort of “art” is grounded in masochism.

    2-That sort of “art” is deeply stigmatizing to AAs in general, and AA women in particular. By stigmatizing us as all being victims of incest, sexual abuse, and so on, it hinders our escape into healthier social environments. I DON’T want people assuming that my childhood included being sexually abused, etc.

    3-That sort of “art” serves to normalize depravity and trauma as “to be expected” parts of AA women’s and girls’ lives.

    4-Even though that sort of “art” probably serves as catharsis for the victim-artists like Tyler Perry, Oprah and others who spread that mess, it’s hurting the rest of us. The rest of us CAN’T afford the collateral damage caused by the victim-artists’ catharsis.

    5-For the sake of our own survival and for the future of all AA girls, the rest of us must shove these victim-artists and their stigmatizing “art” BACK into the closet and onto the fringes.

    6-For the sake of our own survival and for the future of all AA girls, the rest of us must produce healthy art that enhances our social mobility, and lets little AA girls know that ABUNDANT LIFE is their birthright! And that this abundant, vibrant, healthy life is something they should expect and seek for themselves.
    ________________________________

    Karen & JaliliMaster,

    It’s VERY interesting (as you’ve both noted in your own ways) that Will Smith knew how to play the game at a young age, and this experienced BW performer didn’t.

    JaliliMaster, Denzel knows where his bread and butter has been coming from . . . {chuckling}

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • YMB says:

      For the life of me, I don’t understand what white people find so “uplifting” about Push/Precious. One of my white acquaintances on Facebook posted about having finished reading the book. Now this WW is a self-described devout Catholic and would be offended at so much as even a mild off-color joke. Yet, “I didn’t think I would like a book with so much bad language, but I loved it!” What is there to love about the story of a girl who is routinely subjected to physical and sexual abuse, bears two of her father’s children, and at the end of the movie is HIV+ (most likely her children also), with no H.S. diploma, no job, and limited time left at the shelter she is staying in? The mind reels.

      I also read Howard Stern’s comments about how fake Hollywood and the media are being about the glowing praise lavished on Ms. Sidibe and her career prospects. Everybody gets to feel good about how “accepting” and “open minded” they are about her, except they’ll never find another starring role for her again.

      Lastly, I am absolutely disgusted by how Mo’Nique paraded her hairy legs around on the red carpet. I guess she was afraid the stereotype about black women not shaving might actually be forgotten about.

      • Rhonda says:

        YMB said: For the life of me, I don’t understand what white people find so “uplifting” about Push/Precious. One of my white acquaintances on Facebook posted about having finished reading the book. Now this WW is a self-described devout Catholic and would be offended at so much as even a mild off-color joke. Yet, “I didn’t think I would like a book with so much bad language, but I loved it!” What is there to love about the story of a girl who is routinely subjected to physical and sexual abuse, bears two of her father’s children, and at the end of the movie is HIV+ (most likely her children also), with no H.S. diploma, no job, and limited time left at the shelter she is staying in? The mind reels.

        YMB,

        As a test, ask your white acquaintance if she found it uplifting, what happened to that real-life white woman in [I think it was] Austria [or was it Germany?], whose father imprisoned her for 20-plus years and raped her too many times to count, wherein she gave birth to five (a total of seven, but two died) of his children. This man, her father, built a prison in his basement, which his daughter and her children (his grandchildren) were not able to escape; neither did they, for 20-plus years get any fresh air or sunlight; no exposure to the outside world, and their minds were not allowed to develop. If I remember the details of this horrible “story” correctly: He would restrain her so that he could force himself, sexually, on her.

        You can throw that in her face, then sit back and watch the hypocrisy.

        • Rhonda says:

          Oh, I forgot to add: This story was reported on in 2008/2009, for that is when she and the children were rescued from that living hell!

          • Karen says:

            It was in Austria and the most chilling thing about it is the following:

            The more “normal” children that she gave birth to, suddenly appeared on her mother’s doorstep and she raised them. Clearly, her mother knew what was going on as she was “forbidden” to ever go in the basement. Yes, women are more often than not co-conspirators in the evil that men do.

            To your original point, I am sure that devout Catholic would not be loving this true story.

          • YMB says:

            Thanks, Rhonda! I remember that case and wish I had thought of it when this person originally posted that comment to Facebook. I am sure she would have been appalled at the suggestion.

  7. JaliliMaster says:

    Khadija Nassif says:

    “Karen & JaliliMaster,

    It’s VERY interesting (as you’ve both noted in your own ways) that Will Smith knew how to play the game at a young age, and this experienced BW performer didn’t.”

    That is what baffled me the most of the entire episode. People seem to forget that Will Smith at the time was between 19-25 yrs old. This woman (Ms Hubert) was a grown adult, a seasoned actress with a lot of experience in the acting industry. Being Black, she would have known the hardship Black performers experience. Yet she got played…..so easily…..by someone relatively ‘young’. How did he know these things and she didn’t?

  8. JS says:

    Precious is completely disgusting and extremely exploitive. This “movie” has been described as poverty porn. Even the Elephant man had less pathologies and more positive attributes than this character. Not every movie about BW or BG has to be completely sanitized but it should have some redeeming qualities and should NOT STIGMATIZE us.

  9. lois says:

    Not so lol…Monique telling Barbara Walter’s she has an open marriage and why she does not shave her legs,she makes me think of a guy. Now,that was not a pleasant image. One of her best male friends is Steve Harvey. Also, didn’t Halle already thanked Hattie McDaniels?

  10. Didi says:

    I admit to enjoying Fresh Prince of Bel Air as a kid who did not grow up in the USA and so did not understand the potentially harmful stereotypes portrayed.I do recollect wondering what happened to the dark-skinned mum and why some of the kids were obviously mixed-race whilst the mum and dad were clearly not. I also recall actually liking Carlton’s role despite it being made clear he was “uncool” or nerdy. Maybe because he was such a good comic actor? I wonder were his career went after the show?? Very interesting points raised about Janet Hubert’s naivete in handling her acting career. In every working enviroment corporate, creative etc one needs to do their homework and develop strategies for surviving and thriving. But how to do it without intentionally harming others is the key issue…I agree it’s tough out there and people utilize cutthroat tactics to get ahead but it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
    On to Precious, Monique, Gabourey et al. In a way I feel sorry for them. At the moment they are savouring the limelight and having their hopes raised; I guess reality will eventually set in when it’s back to “business as usual”. If in doubt just ask Halle, Taraji, Jennifer Hudson or most notably- Cuba Gooding Jr. Just a few examples of black actors who probably assumed winning an oscar or briefly gaining recognition in Hollywood would kickstart a career trajectory; wiping away years of marginalization or discrimination. *SMH*

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      @ Didi

      I confess, I had a slight crush on Alfonso Ribero. I wasn’t a devoted fan of the show, but from what I saw Will’s character wasn’t exactly an ABC, but there was something stereotypical about him that reminded me of the ABCs – who were bullying me at the time…

      “But how to do it without intentionally harming others is the key issue…I agree it’s tough out there and people utilize cutthroat tactics to get ahead but it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.”

      I am in agreement and have been thinking similar.

      @ Lois

      I don’t understand Monique and women like her. I remember hearing grumblings of the mansharing, open marriage, BM can’t be faithful, polygamy movement a few short years ago. I know this existed de facto in some black areas prior to this, but then you had M. Baisden and the like pushing harder. I don’t understand why would some BW chose to embrace that. It looks so bad. When I read Monique’s quotes where she was saying something to the effect – “so what if he steps outside the marriage 20 times etc… I feel like she and other women like her are saying, I have no self esteem, I have no value, I will settle for any scraps I can get. It is bad enough that BW who are dealing with BM have HIV rates to contend with, but a recent report stated that 48% of BW are infected with Herpes.

      • Karen says:

        “It is bad enough that BW who are dealing with BM have HIV rates to contend with, but a recent report stated that 48% of BW are infected with Herpes.”

        I would treat any such report with due caution. Yes, there is very likely a high infection rate but to now suggest half of the population I believe it taking things a bit to far.

        If indeed true, then AA BW’s stock is dropping even further. Practicing safe sex is no longer optional and open relations should be not even a discussion topic, they should be avoided at all costs. This is a life and death matter…

        • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

          Karen,

          You are correct. I have a correction to make. It is not 48% of all BW who infected, but allegedly BW make up 48% of the infections. …But that still doesn’t look good and I am hoping that this is not true.

  11. NijaG says:

    Khadija brought up some major points about Ms. Hubert and how she handled herself in relation to interactions w/her co-workers specially the star Will Smith and also not fully understanding the industry she was working in.

    I haven’t read the book, but based on Khadija’s write up and what I can infer her situation is not that unusual. There are certain industries (Entertainment) especially, where if you don’t have any clout or major pull yet, you need to learn how to lay low, not rock the boat, build your own network and maneuver amongst the more powerful players in the game.

    What I’ve observed when working with AA’s in particular is that quite a few when dealing with other AA’s tend to want to ignore or play down power dynamics, status or hierarchies. There is an assumption sometimes that since we’re AA’s certain protocols or behaviors when it comes to power differentials should be relaxed. I see this especially with women and those in the lower status positions in regard.

  12. JaliliMaster says:

    NijaG says:
    “March 14, 2010 at 9:21 pmKhadija brought up some major points about Ms. Hubert and how she handled herself in relation to interactions w/her co-workers specially the star Will Smith and also not fully understanding the industry she was working in.

    I haven’t read the book, but based on Khadija’s write up and what I can infer her situation is not that unusual. There are certain industries (Entertainment) especially, where if you don’t have any clout or major pull yet, you need to learn how to lay low, not rock the boat, build your own network and maneuver amongst the more powerful players in the game.

    What I’ve observed when working with AA’s in particular is that quite a few when dealing with other AA’s tend to want to ignore or play down power dynamics, status or hierarchies. There is an assumption sometimes that since we’re AA’s certain protocols or behaviors when it comes to power differentials should be relaxed. I see this especially with women and those in the lower status positions in regard.”

    This is true. There seems to be this attitude that when it is White folks, I have to watch out, play the game etc. When it is Black folks, then all of a sudden, I can relax etc. BW need to stop going into these environments under the impression that other Blacks would be willing to roll over to make their life easy. The fact that most AA women seem more than happy to roll over so that someone else can ‘eat’, all while they themselves are starving, doesn’t mean that these same people will be willing to return the favour. AA women, please drop the naivete. All these people that you are willing to suffer for are NOT WILLING TO SUFFER FOR YOU!

    I am sure that in another case, Ms Hubert could have been someone willing to ‘take a blow’ for Will Smith, thinking that with him being on the up, when the time comes, he would be willing to return the favour. WRONG. And I do not hold it against him. The fact that BM seem to be VERY POOR strategists when it comes to men of other races should not let any of you think they don’t know how to scheme when it comes to BW. The reason they stack up very poorly when compared to non-BM is not because they haven’t tried to play the game. It is because they just don’t have the resources, mainly because they never bothered to earn it (e.g education, qualifications, networks, etc). However, when it comes to BW, they are ready to bring their entire arsenal, little as it may be. I have heard numerous stories of how AA women were willing to scheme ON BEHALF OF BM, even though there was no benefit to them whatsoever. Later on, they start shedding tears, wondering what they did wrong when said BM then throws them under th bus.

  13. JaliliMaster,

    You said, “There seems to be this attitude that when it is White folks, I have to watch out, play the game etc. When it is Black folks, then all of a sudden, I can relax etc. BW need to stop going into these environments under the impression that other Blacks would be willing to roll over to make their life easy.”

    . . . “The fact that BM seem to be VERY POOR strategists when it comes to men of other races should not let any of you think they don’t know how to scheme when it comes to BW. The reason they stack up very poorly when compared to non-BM is not because they haven’t tried to play the game. It is because they just don’t have the resources, mainly because they never bothered to earn it (e.g education, qualifications, networks, etc). However, when it comes to BW, they are ready to bring their entire arsenal, little as it may be.”

    Indeed.

    I’m thinking of the BW filmmaker who (unsuccessfully) sued Chris Rock for copyright infringement. It appears that she was naive enough to show her documentary, “My Nappy Roots,” to him. And then was surprised when he combined HER idea with his Rolodex full of Hollywood contacts and made a mock-u-mentary (that I guess made money for him). http://actsoffaithinloveandlife.blogspot.com/2009/10/chris-rock-pulls-steve-harvey-stop.html

    She must have assumed that he was going to help with her documentary. {shaking my head} I wonder if she also naively showed her documentary to other Black women in the industry with the expectation that they would help her. Or did she (quite appropriately) keep her work as a closely guarded secret in terms of other BW?

    I’ll have to think about whether or not I’ve seen as many AAW extend this same sort of naivete to their dealings with other women, including BW. My inclination is that, NO, AAW only get this clueless and naive in their dealings with BM. And that there’s an undercurrent of distrust among AA women.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  14. JaliliMaster says:

    I have noticed something amongst the majority of AA women that I don’t see in other ethnicities. They are more willing to help their fellow man than they are willing to help their fellow woman. And I’m talking in terms of helping AA men as opposed to AA women. If you get a group made up of the average AA woman, and tell them to donate money to help a young BM pay his fees, their pockets would be overflowing. Tell them to donate to help a young AA girl pay her fees, all of a sudden, they realise they are broke!

    • Magenta says:

      I really think this behavior is about BW desperately trying to prove their loyalty to BM. Oh yes we love to make it seem like we are just so noble and loyal, but I really do not believe that is the motivation for this behavior. Maybe if we just show them how devoted we are, maybe they will love us *throws up in mouth a little*

      Then we put a virtuous spin on it and say we are just so “loyal”, “strong” etc. That it why we are always trying to “help a brotha out”. I remember when the Washington Post did that article on IR dating featuring K. Folan and several black female bloggers took to the net proudly stating how the will NEVER give up on the black man, the black man is their king, black love, stand by the black man, their are willing to be alone before leaving the black man, etc. Again they are not fooling me, I know what this behavior is REALLY all about. I honestly wish they would stop because they are making all BW look desperate.

      BW are so male identified that they are systematically destroying their femininity and self-esteem.

  15. JaliliMaster says:

    In addition to the above, why are AA women always so willing to come out marching for negro males who ae of no value to them, but stay home when the time comes to march for a genuine AA female victim. What many people forget in the the whole Dunbar disgrace, is that many of the NAACP staff who were supporting his stance were Black women! I don’t understand why this still happens.

    • Karen says:

      Jalilimaster,

      AA women are indoctrinated from birth that they are not worth as much as an AA male. With this in mind, it would be expected that the conditioned response would always be to serve and save an AA male before an AA woman.

      These dynamics continue to be repeated for the majority of AA families. AA males count, AA women do not.

      This pattern will only be broken once more AA women realize wake up or break free from this indoctrination.

  16. JaliliMaster,

    To answer your questions above, it’s about cultural programming. Similar to how the BW of the “Democratic Republic” (sure, right) of the Congo have apparently raised an entire country filled with serial rapists.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • Magenta says:

      I think of some of these “third world” countries and the brutality of women and girls that takes place in these nations (honor killing, rape, acid burning, female genital mutilation) and there are almost always female co-conspirators. They will usually makes up excuses about tradition or this is the way things always were or how the victim of one of the offenses I described deserved it by bringing “shame” on the family.

      When a woman becomes male-identified, the suffering of women and girls are of no concern to her, not even when it is her own daughter!!! That is how mothers can stay with men who sexually abuse their children. That is how that vile woman was able to so easily engage in character assassination of the Dunbar Village gang rape victims, while defending the beasts that perpetrated this crime. That is how I know the black community is on its way to “third world status”.

  17. Magenta,

    You said, “I think of some of these “third world” countries and the brutality of women and girls that takes place in these nations (honor killing, rape, acid burning, female genital mutilation) and there are almost always female co-conspirators. . .

    . . . When a woman becomes male-identified, the suffering of women and girls are of no concern to her, not even when it is her own daughter!!!” (emphasis added)

    Exactly! And I agree with your point that “the black community is on its way to ‘third world status.'” The dysfunctions are parallel in many ways. Substitute the term “child soldier” for “gangbanger.” Or “warlord” for “drug dealer.” Is there any meaningful difference between the rape culture in the DR of the Congo and the rape culture in the Dunbar Villages of the US? I think not.

    An AA male colleague was correct years ago when he predicted that conditions in Black residential areas in the US would begin to mirror the mass lawlessness in Somalia.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • NijaG says:

      Male Identified is a perfect term. I’ve always believed that any group/society/culture/nation that doesn’t put as equal value on the issues of their women and children WILL NEVER PROGRESS. They will always be cursed and never reach their maximum potential.

      It wasn’t until Western civilization started placing importance on the issues and needs of their women that they started really dominating. Not to get too metaphysical but my belief is that Male and Female energies are meant to be balanced. Once one energy unnecessarily dominates things start to fall apart.

      Regarding female co-conspirators, I think it is very similar to the crabs in a barrel mindset you talk about. Even when some women try to challenge the status-quo fear and intimidation tactics are used to shut them down. Actually, the Blow the Trumpet blog has a good article on this issue and the upcoming battle black women are going to face as more of us start to diversify, leave the community and not rely on black men or the black community.

      Exactly! And I agree with your point that “the black community is on its way to ‘third world status.’” The dysfunctions are parallel in many ways.

      The first similarities I noticed here coming from West Africa pertained to male-female dynamics/rlsps. I was really shocked to see certain dynamics that played out back home, playing out in Black America. I really couldn’t understand it. I don’t know, maybe it was because I had more exposure with just the mainstream white culture that I really didn’t expect to see certain detrimental and “backwards” thinking in the American black community.

  18. JaliliMaster says:

    “To answer your questions above, it’s about cultural programming. Similar to how the BW of the “Democratic Republic” (sure, right) of the Congo have apparently raised an entire country filled with serial rapists.”

    “I think of some of these “third world” countries and the brutality of women and girls that takes place in these nations (honor killing, rape, acid burning, female genital mutilation) and there are almost always female co-conspirators.”

    “When a woman becomes male-identified, the suffering of women and girls are of no concern to her, not even when it is her own daughter!!!”

    The sad thing is that many of those women who were willing to turn a blind eye when it was someone else daughter are now having their own daughters, as well as themselves, being raped. As it is in a war zone, there is no protection whatsoever. Similarly, those men who were willing to turn a blind eye are now having their wives and daughters raped right in front of them! Every single time I heard of a gang rape in the Middle East, usually excused as ‘punishment’ for her bringing some sort of shame on the family, there was always a woman involved. That was how they started recruiting female suicide bombers in Iraq. They would get an older, respected female in the community to set these young women up. They are then gang raped. They are then threatened that if they don’t become suicide bombers, their family will be told that they have been violated. These women then agree, as the thought of the shame, for them, is worse than death.

    And on these male-identified female negroes, I no longer have any patience. I know many will disagree with this. But when that AA woman who was more than ready to attack you when you were down or being attacked by some DBR all in a bid to ‘support a brotha’ then turns round and need your help, don’t give it. She’ll use emotion as a crutch, because she expects you as an AA woman to come running. If many of these DBR-supporting women see that when the time comes and they are the ones on the receiving end of the DBRs madness, they receive the same treatment that they meted out to other AA women, then maybe they’d think twice before doing it. I really think AA women should only spend their time on those that would go to bat for them if the tables were turned. Otherwise, you’re just getting used!

    • NijaG says:

      While America is far from perfect, it has always been the one place compared even to other Western nations where I believe a woman can live whatever life she truly wants.

      Women in Third World countries have to deal with issues on a macro and micro level that affects them. Literally most of their fates are tied to whatever actions their men take on a large and small scale.

      Most Western countries have advance past that point, especially in America. An adult woman’s fate doesn’t have to tied to any man or familial/racial group if she doesn’t want to.

      That’s why this increasing ideas like man-sharing, legalized polygamy, open rlsps, etc that I keep hearing in the BC is totally shocking to me. Seriously!!!! Back home, we’re trying to get rid of these traditions because we’ve seen the issues and problems created, and here in the black American community, it seems to be gaining speed in certain fractions.

      It worse for me when I hear some of the women agreeing or putting up with such things, because it doesn’t even have to be that way. Honestly, I’ve felt like shaking a couple of black women, when I see them accepting rubbish and I know they can do better. I’m always telling them that they live in AMERICA, they have OPTIONS, they don’t have to put up with crazy-making behavior or lower their standards.

      That’s why I’m glad I found the BWE/IR blogs. I seriously thought it was a lost cause.

  19. A-ion says:

    ““To answer your questions above, it’s about cultural programming. Similar to how the BW of the “Democratic Republic” (sure, right) of the Congo have apparently raised an entire country filled with serial rapists.”

    And this is PRECISELY what has happened throughout history when otherwise powerless men are allowed exclusive control to the women in their vicinity… In my opinion, black women should have NEVER been publicly advocating the removal of police from black constructs. People in general don’t like doing dirt when people are watching, and the women the most isolated from the general public are always the most at risk. This is why rapists frequent alley’s and abandoned parking lots as opposed to populated streets or during prime work hours. On a mass scale, we see that this is true, and what BM’s plan for “no interference from outsiders” truly means for black women anywhere around the globe..

    Whether or not cops are an ideal alternative doesn’t matter…Right now it’s the ONLY one women who must remain in black constructs have (we also shouldn’t have been at the forefront of gentrification argument in my opinion because of this, but that’s another bag of worms). The rise in real estate and rent are real issues, but for black men (who often DON’T pay rent any way), the issue was more about not having exclusive and secretive access to black neighborhoods and the women and children (or “weak men” meaning GLBT men) in them to do with what they wish. They don’t feel “comfortable” engaging in street terrorism over black women and violent anarchy when more and more whites are watching…

    It’s really really sad.

  20. Patricia Kayden says:

    I had heard that Ms. Hubert left the show under negative circumstances. I hope that young AA women (and Black women in general) take her advice. Black men are kings in the Black community, so you either have to play their game or figure out a way to get out from underneath them. For example, Kerry Washington does not gravitate to “black” films, which is probably a good career move on her part.

  21. Magenta says:

    Nija,

    I was horrified when Mo’Nique (another “victim-artist” to use Khadija’s term) was bragging about her open marriage. I was even more horrified when several black people defended this nonsense. I refuse to listen to Michael Baisden’s show because of his constant promotion of mansharing. The fact that we are beginning to embrace these extremely misogynistic cultural practices proves to me that the BC its on its way to permanent underclass status.

    A-ion,
    I have never looked at it that way, but you are correct. Many of the men in these countries with horrible human rights records when it comes to their treatment of women and children have been completely conquered by the West. These conquered men then take their anger out on the women and children in their collectives. These men have no power, no clout, and they only way they can feel like a man is if they are exploiting a woman. They do not understand that they will NEVER be taken seriously as a group as long as they continue to wage terror on their women and children. The same goes for DBRBM here in the US.

    Patricia,

    I have noticed that Aisha Tyler took this career path as well. She never marketed herself as a black actress or comedianne, and I think that is why she has had so much success. Compare this to the careers of “black actresses” like Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Angela Bassett, Megan Goode, the list goes on and on. Then these same actresses will be in Essence magazine complaining about how hard it is to get work,how it is easier for the black male actors like Will Smith and Terrance Howard, how they have to be out of work because roles they are being offered are “degrading”, how unfair it is, etc. It drives me crazy.

    It looks Taraji P. Henson finally got some sense and started to diversify her roles. I think like Ms. Hubert, many of these black actresses are extremely naive when it comes to how the game is played. They honestly believe these black men in the industry will have their back.

    • NijaG says:

      Magenta,

      You’re right about Michael Baisden. While I was never a big listener to his show, anytime I did tune in, there always a 50:50 chance I would be listening to some topic with an underlying theme skewed towards those misogynistic issues mentioned above.

      Re: Feelings of Powerlessness. Men in general never deal with this as well as women. They also tend not to handle life cruel ups and downs any better too. Most of the time their reaction tends towards either violence, using women in some form or both. That’s why it becomes very important for women to choose men with strong and centered emotional/mental/spiritual center. Their ego’s are not a fragile and so they don’t react as negatively to life’s ups and downs.

      I have noticed that Aisha Tyler took this career path as well. She never marketed herself as a black actress or comedianne, and I think that is why she has had so much success. Compare this to the careers of “black actresses” like Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Angela Bassett, Megan Goode, the list goes on and on.

      Gabby U is one of my favorite actress. I’ve never really seen her as a “black actress.” Compared to the others listed I’ve seen her on way more major TV network shows and not just typecasted as the black woman. I think she just hasn’t been lucky to get a hit lasting show. I’m hoping that Flash Forward, the current show she’s on will last. The shows similar to that genre (sci-fi/drama) never seem to last. She was actually a co-star in a show in that genre a few years ago, which I really like, but of course it got cancelled.

  22. JaliliMaster says:

    NijaG, trust me on this, Gabrielle Union is a “black actress”. The only reason she is on these more “mainsteam” shows is because she is (1) lucky, (2) because she is very pretty and (3) she doesn’t have a ghetto “look”. Had she been more in the guise of, say, a Megan Goode, i.e pretty, but no matter how much seh tries, can’t help coming across as “hood”, her career would be much less successful. I think she is on of the few Black actresses out there who had a real chance of attaining a certain level of big “movie-starness”, but she let the poers that be in her head convince her that she needed a hunk of chocolate (Morris Chestnut) to have any chance of a film career. Well, where is Chestnut today (and I will be the first to admit that I find him very attractive).

    Kerry Washington is probably going to be the next big Black American actress. She has the talent, the looks and the poise. Another one is Naomie Harris, although she is British. Taraji P Henson got a clue and started to diversify. However, I suspect that she may have done so too late. Hence, I have a feeling that she is always going to end up playing the role of the younger, Black, out-upon mother.

    Angela Bassett was probably going to be the first Black actress to win a Best actor oscar, then Halle came along. Bassett didn’t take advantage of the growing clout she had as Hollywoods top Black actress back in her day, then she got older. It is partly her fault.

    Nia Long is lucky. She is one of those Black women for who Black really doesn’t crack. Hence, she can believably ply characters who are over 15 yearsyounger than her real age and no one bats an eyelid. Unfortuntely, she too, wasted her time on ‘Black films’ and a lot of Hollywood folks forgot her name. The fact is that the window of opportunity is very small. If you don’t take advantages of your chances, you’ll end up with nothing. If you notice, many of these negro film makers are now too embarassed to approach Kerry Washington with their downmarket scripts. I’m glad they are starting to get the message.

  23. Magenta says:

    I know that we have since moved on to other topics, but I came across this in my google reader and I just had to share it.

    Sources say Will Smith causing problems on set of wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s show ‘HawthoRNe’

    “He’s been inserting his input and requesting so many changes to the script that it pushed back the production schedule tremendously and caused everything to spiral out of control.”

    Pinkett Smith plays a nurse on the hit show, which premiered last year to stellar ratings. But despite the first season’s success, our insider says her husband wants the dramatic scenes pushed to the limit – and he apparently submits pages of notes and rewrite requests to the show’s writers and producers each week.

    A rep for TNT had “no comment” on the matter, and Smith’s flack said that this was “untrue.”

    Nevertheless, our source insists: “Everyone is praying for him to book a new movie so that he will go away.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2010/03/29/2010-03-29_sources_say_will_smith_causing_problems_on_set_of_wife_jada_pinkett_smiths_show_.html

    I wonder how much longer the network tolerates this before getting rid of Jada Pinkett entirely.

    • NijaG says:

      If that’s true then Jada needs to put her foot down. While it might be more difficult to “fire” her if she is the executive producer as Khadija said, the network could decide not to pick up her show for another season if it becomes an inconvenience for them.

  24. Magenta,

    Lord have mercy.

    Although, if I remember correctly, Jada Pinkett-Smith is the executive producer of her show—if so, it would be more difficult by an order of magnitude for the network to fire her (as opposed to firing somebody who’s only an actor on the show and not part of its management).

    {shaking my head}

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.