I Am Not Mary Jane

Tonight is the season finale of “Being Mary Jane”. This show has sparked much conversation in regards to black women and how we are portrayed on television. Some people are impressed with the strong heroine, admire her for having a great job and being a career woman, for helping her family in their times of need-despite their bad decision making, for being financially independent, and for just being a go-getter. On the other hand, you have those who are disgusted, upset, and pissed off with this character. As I stated in my review of the movie that premiered last summer, I was happy to see a character like her…but at the end of the movie, I was totally disgusted when she saved David’s sperm. And that was just the beginning of how any similarities between MJ and myself began to deteriorate. She began making awful decisions. From going back to Andre, her married boyfriend, to having a pissing contest with Avery, Andre’s wife, I realized that I am not Mary Jane (despite BET’s attempt to encourage women from all walks of life to send in videos proclaiming “I am Mary Jane”).

But, let’s not forget this is a fictional show; though, suffice it to say, I’m sure there a few people out there that can relate to a few scenarios. Let’s be real for a second. We put SO much pressure on writers and directors and producers to show black people in general, black women in particular, in positive lights. There was even a post how the world has evolved from Claire Huxtable to Mary Jane Paul. We slam these women on “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Basketball Wives” for fighting and cursing and basically just being an embarassment. We villify them for not setting positive examples and being roles models for young girls and young women. But…shouldn’t WE be doing that? The woman that goes to work everyday. The woman that volunteers with non-profit organizations in her city. The woman that teaches Sunday school. The woman that serves on the city council. The woman that teaches chemistry and math and English. The woman that is a great neighbor that speaks to everyone and helps keep the streets clean. My point is, if we, the women that these children see and interact with everyday, are doing what WE should be doing, these young women would not look to a tv character, whether she’s on a scripted show or a “reality” show, to figure out how to become a woman and a lady. She would view you-her mother, her mentor, her teacher, her neighbor-to decide what makes a woman. Yes, we are all flawed, and that’s fine. But should our aim in life be to become a caricature character we see on television?

I mean, I am not Mary Jane Paul; but I am not Claire Huxtable, either.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

4 Comments

  1. Great post! Especially recognizing as much as we all don’t want to identify with Mary Jane Paul, most of us can’t identify with Claire Huxtable either. We’re flawed, imperfect beings but our Reality and our Truth are what should inspire and motivate the next generation. Not a script (even reality TV is 75% scripted)

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