Reality TV, Colorism and Pretty Privilege!

By Diary of a Chocolate Girl

When sitting and enjoying reality tv, you usually have a favorite from every show you gravitate towards, whether it be due to personality, beliefs, finding a personal similarity you can relate to, or primarily those you find attractive. In most shows, the individuals are typically all attractive, wealthy, and always a clear majority with a specific skin tone over another. Recently, I was indulging in catching up on some of my favorite reality shows, and one franchise made me reassess my own life experiences. The show Basketball Wives is centered around women who are either married, dating, or have dated a professional basketball player. The show is produced by Shaunie O’Neal, ex-wife of retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. Accompanying her on this show she created are several of her close friends who all share the commonality of being romantically involved with a professional player.

This show has a roster of well-known but rich, beautiful women who share their stories and experiences from life and interact with their other castmates. One of the topics that arose this season is colorism. The claims were brought at the end of season 8 when newcomer Ogom “OG” Chijindu got into a verbal altercation with a few of her castmates over rumors of communicating with one of the show’s veterans, Evelyn Lozada. When filming ended, and the show was premiering, the aftermath of the exchange got heated on social media. Evelyn Lozada was not in favor of OG on the show, and the storyline OG shared she was once pursued by Lozada’s now ex-fiance, Chad Ocho Cinco. In retaliation for the on-screen drama, Lozada posted in response to the episode where she referred to OG as “black and dirty” when throwing insults.

OG was very offended not with the insult but with what came after on social media. Lozada took to social media and created a post calling out OG and including a monkey picture to add what she stated as humor to her clap back. Little did she know, this was NOT a good look. Now to give insight on why this issue became so problematic, I will provide you with a bit of backstory. Evelyn is Puerto Rican and fair-skinned. OG is African and dark-skinned. The issue started when OG called Evelyn out for using the N-word and highlighting Lozada as a colorist for how she treated her upon arrival on the show. Now, these claims were denied by Lozada when OG took to social media to call out Lozada. But many fans were in agreeance with OG of a clear divide and colorist issue on the show. For me personally, I very much can understand where OG is coming from being a dark-skinned chocolate girl myself. And to add insult to injury, when someone references any person of color to a monkey is the ULTIMATE disrespect of any racist remark.

Lozada ended up filing a lawsuit against OG for defamation of character. Now my personal feelings are a bit swayed. On the show, there are about an equal number of light and dark-skinned women. All newcomers have had different experiences. Some easy, some good and some bad, and just not a good fit for the group of women. But I have never seen anyone treated the way OG has on national television. From the way she dresses to her profession of being a professional female football player to her personality and culture, every aspect was picked apart. I started to think about my own experiences in comparison to how OG was portrayed on the show. I think about how I was treated growing up by a family member who called me ugly and “blacky” because I was darker than my sisters and cousins.

Also, the issue of pretty privilege was mentioned. This was when I felt I had to reconsider if I have had the same privileges now as an adult. These issues are always so close to home in whether you can identify having experienced the perks or condemning due to how society views an individual or group of people. But when these issues are evident and displayed on national television, it sadly becomes a reality that happens to people every day. The feat of dealing with these issues is determined by knowing your self-worth and being comfortable despite one’s opinion that may very well be ignorant and misinformed. When addressing colorism on the show, the majority of the castmates denied OG’s claims of how she felt when certain remarks were made. The difference I saw was the women not apologizing for how she felt but not having the willingness to respect and understand why she did feel the way she thought about the comments and her treatment on the show. Putting an effort to see where the other castmates were coming from, stating they did not witness what OG said she was dealing with, I can also see why they felt that her claims of colorism and not having pretty privilege were not true.

It is often hard to see things clearly from another’s lenses, especially if you cannot personally relate. It’s almost as hard as trying to give someone insight into what you have personally experienced and felt secondhand. It never truly can be understood exactly how you lived it. I truly hope that many who watch this show can look within and reflect on if they have ever been in any women’s shoes on both sides of this topic.

Those to know and those who do not. Those who experienced it and those who will never have to. So when these topics are amidst an individual,  does it indeed exist?

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Chanel Davis is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Chanel is the creator and operator of the Diary Of A Chocolate Girl podcast aiming to connect with chocolate girls all over through personal experiences and opinions with mild humor and a spiritual flare. Be sure to connect on IG and Facebook @DiaryofaChocolateGirl

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