I am sure that I am not the only one who watched the Season Premiere of Fantasia’s reality show, Fantasia For Real. And I’ll go off the ledge and say that I’m not the only one who found the show to be insightful, as well. As a North Carolina native and an African-American woman, I’m proud to see Fantasia successful. As a matter of fact, I can remember calling the 1-800 number numerous times to contribute to her American Idol victory. But, for the sake of this discussion, let’s evaluate the show.
Fantasia’s brother, Teeny, was depicted as the family moocher. I do not know Teeny personally, nor do I know Fantasia’s family, so I am basing my argument on how he portrayed himself on the show. He is a young African-American man who relies solely on his sister while he pursues his musical endeavors. If I’m not mistaken, his diction implied a “non-traditional” path in life. Do not get me wrong, I’m all about following your dreams, pursuing your passions, but I also believe in working. Somewhere down the line we’ve allowed the Souljah Boyz and Gucci Mane’s to distort our American Dream. Black men like Teeny are now borrowing the fame of their sisters, brothers, uncles and whomever else to secure their place in the rap industry. And in many cases, the talent isn’t there, they’re simply hustling (or hustlin’) for the glamorous lifestyle shown on BET. It is sad. We are living in an era where our President is as diverse as our possibilities, and an alarming portion of our generation is still living in a one-dimensional world.
When I see men like Teeny, better yet when I see women like Fantasia, women who have made it, but feel obligated to be the family savior, it saddens me. The fact that we do not address these issues within our community saddens me. Would it be different if VH1 premiered a reality show with a Teeny character who was abusing welfare? Think about it. Are we not rattled by this, because our tax money isn’t affected? Is it deemed acceptable as long as we (African-Americans) continue the role of string puppets, despite the strings being clipped long ago? The ultimate question is whether it is truly entertaining to watch an African-American family make poor financial after “finally getting a piece of the pie”, or is the entertainment found in the Teeny’s of the world, those who belittle education and crown a more lackadaisical approach to life?
Now, I’m not oblivious to the positives of the show. For example, Fantasia is working towards her GED, which sends an encouraging message to the young women who share similar life stories. If for nothing more it shows that money cannot replace knowledge. Fantasia embodies the principles we should embrace from the show. She’s not perfect, yet she’s trying to improve. She’s also not afraid of traveling down the “traditional” path. Above all things, I can respect those things about her.
But is that what people take away from the show? Or does Teeny contribute to the familiar? Just a sidenote: It is a great flaw, yet still very true that people base their perceptions of the whole on what becomes embedded in their minds. How do you achieve that? Through repetition, in this case, what people see the most of- just turn to BET for confirmation on what I mean. Or better yet, Souljah Boy tell ’em.
Ya’ll (excuse my Southern dialect), I just want the days when our people wanted to be President. Give me the days when our people aimed to be a part of the “Talented Tenth”. Yes, the days when we stood for something, because we were all too familiar with falling. When we valued our culture enough to step outside the realm of entertainment and into our brilliance.
Aren’t we tired of being used for entertainment purposes?