Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A New Kind of Bachelor

Really, It Matters
(A guest post by Deidra Riggs)

I swore off watching “The Bachelor” about seven seasons back. I used to be SO into it. Addicted, really. The romance! The drama! The exotic dates! The Fantasy Suites! The heartbreak! The sobbing in the limo! I. Loved. It. All!!!

Believe me. I don’t blame you if you feel the desire to click away right now and read something that will enhance your intellect, rather than this drivel about a — insert air quotes here — reality show where thirty eleven women throw themselves at one man who ignores the advice you shout at him from the sofa and who never picks the right woman and in the end the one he does pick drops him like a hot potato once the spotlight fades to black. You read about their breakup on the cover of a tabloid at the check out counter in Target and you shake your head and say to your own man, “I knew it! Why do these men never listen to me?” to which your man looks at you with eyes glazed over and says, “Really?”

Yep. I had quit. Cold turkey. But the other night, while scrolling through Facebook, I glimpsed something about a minority on The Bachelor! “What?” I thought to myself. I responded with something like, “We’ll see how long she lasts,” and figured that would be that.

Well, my curiosity got the best of me, and the next day, I logged on to my laptop to watch the episode online. Sure enough! Three black women! THREE! And, not only black women. This is the most diverse cast I’ve ever seen on The Bachelor (and I used the word “cast” intentionally because, let’s face it, the reality show thing is only so real). Later that day, I snuck downstairs and set the DVR to record this season of the show. (Surely, my husband is planning an intervention.)

The irony of this does not escape me.

All around me, people are dating and marrying “outside their race” (as our elders like to call it), and The Bachelor is just now airing an episode where there is a higher than usual statistical possibility that a woman of color will last beyond the halfway point of the season. And...I’m watching it! Can’t tear myself away.

Sean is this season’s blue-eyed, blond-haired bachelor, and my goal is to get inside his head, while not being manipulated by the producers at ABC. Don’t laugh.

Here’s what I want to know: Is he serious? Is he sincere? Is he really okay with dating someone whose culture is different from his? How much of this is about ABC and ratings (I know, I know)?

No. Those aren’t my real questions. What I really want to know is this: Haven’t we come further than this? Why is this such a big deal? Why are we Tweeting and writing status updates and blog posts about women of color on a television dating show? Why has it taken so long for The Bachelor to mix things up like this? And honestly...the real question is...why hasn’t the bachelor or bachelorette ever been a person of color?

Of course, I’m not just talking about The Bachelor. What I really want to know is, how can we say race doesn’t matter — on television, at church, in the corner office, in politics, in the classroom, etc. — when it obviously still does?

A believer in the unmatched power of story, Deidra seeks to connect people to one another and to God through words. She believes in the value of every person’s story and works hard to make sure we each find our place at the table, and grace to speak the words in our hearts.

Deidra serves as Managing Editor for TheHighCalling.org and writes for DaySpring at incourage.me. The host of JumpingTandem: The Retreat, Deidra is fervently committed to the idea that God wants to change the world through you — yes, you! Connect with Deidra at deidrariggs.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

RACE in Movies

So I went to my first Writer’s Group recently and toward the end of our meeting, we all did a free writing exercise. Free writing is when you take to pen and paper (or keyboard to word processor), set time and write with reckless abandon until your time clock stops. At this particular event, we had exactly 7 minutes to respond to a prompt. Our prompt given before the timer was set began, “It’s always interesting that…” and from there we were encouraged to write, freely until the time of 7 minutes was over. 

I would like to share with you what I wrote and I encourage you to respond, freely! 

My 7 minutes of free writing: 
It’s always interesting that the movies made about Black people that win all of the awards have storylines based in stereotypes! Sure, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won the Oscar. But look at the roles they played and the stories they portrayed! Denzel put on an award-winning performance in the movie John Q and The Great Debaters yet did not win an Oscar. And Halle had to DEGRADE herself to win that honor. 

It’s not just Black people who suffer this phenomenon. I’m sure Latinas are tired of seeing themselves portrayed in movies as the maid who doesn’t speak English or the Dominican woman who is ready to slice you with her collection of knives. And I’m certain Asians do not want to always fill the roles of the owner of the 7-Eleven or dry cleaners! 

The problem with these stereotypes is that they only show ONE SIDE of a person’s culture and history! There is SO MUCH MORE to Black culture than the ghetto and Ebonics and eating fried foods! There is SO MUCH MORE to Hispanic culture than gang violence and knives and border crossing issues! There is SO MUCH MORE to Asian culture than dumplings, sushi and the caste system! 

Now let this be your writing prompt: What do you think about the roles given to minorities in movies and the stereotypes they have to battle in real life?

Respond in the comment section.