By NICK CHILES
First we got tortured by the travails of rapper Shawty Lo and his stable of baby mamas, now we stumble across this headline out of Tennessee:
So says the headline on News One, about a man named Orlando Shaw, 33, whose baby-making prowess is profiled and mocked in a report from the local television affiliate in Nashville.
After watching the television report on this guy, I was shocked into silence. The level of irresponsibility spilling from his lips is stunning and profoundly sad. But while the exploits of Mr. Shaw might make for some local amusement on Nashville television, or might provide a chuckle for the people who passed his story around on their social media outlets, is it really necessary to subject the entire nation—and our children—to the ridiculousness of this clown in the guise of a reality show?
Really? We’re back here?
Of course, as you might recall, we’ve already been down this road with Shawty Lo. Back in January, after an online petition drive collected tens of thousands of signatures, the Oxygen network officially announced it had cancelled Shawty Lo’s “All My Babies’ Mamas,” a reality show that was to chronicle the relationship between the rapper and the 10 mothers of his 11 children.
“To someone committed to the black family, who has spent a good part of his career fighting to improve the image and perception of black men, this all feels like a sticky gob of spit in my face,” I wrote about Oxygen’s move to turn Shawty Lo’s family dramas into a reality show. “I’m sure Oxygen wouldn’t take a camera and follow around a mentally challenged young white man so that we could laugh our asses off as he stumbles into goofy predicaments. But to black folks, it feels like that’s exactly what they are doing here. Laughing at ignorance. Making a buck off the unfortunate life circumstances of others.”
Now here we go again. To paraphrase Michael Corleone (The Godfather, Part III, for the aficionados): Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in.
This is what Shaw had to say about the reality show possibilities:
“I’ve had a lot of people from Hollywood calling me,” he said, adding that he has already signed a production deal with a Los Angeles agency.
After a child support hearing before a bewildered-looking judge, the Nashville television reporter asked Shaw why he had so many children.
“I was just young and ambitious and I love women,” he said. “Hey, you can’t knock no man for loving a woman.”
Ha ha. Big joke.
Then he proudly stated that because of his prodigious virility, the Shaw name would now go marching into the future.
“My family stay strong,” he said. “I make sure we be here for years and years to come.”
Of course, the reason he was standing outside the courtroom was because of his failure to pay tens of thousands in child support. He’s spent time in jail before because of this failure. Though he insists he’s not a deadbeat dad because the mothers all know where they can find him, the TV station calculated that the state of Tennessee has to pay more than $7,000 a month to Shaw’s women and their offspring.
Yes, Mr. Shaw, that’s quite a legacy to pass on to your many children. Already, he has a 16-year-old daughter who is pregnant. This doesn’t please him. (Grandpa at 33?)
“I have babies for her,” Shaw said. “If she wanted a baby, daddy has plenty for us.”
And to that Los Angeles “agency” that contacted Shaw about a show, I have two words for you:
1. If We Let Shawty Lo’s Show Get on the Air, We Will Have Failed Ourselves
2.Shocking News: A Father’s Lifestyle Will Affect His Unborn Children—And Grandchildren Too
3. An Exclusive Interview with NBA Veteran Etan Thomas About His New Book “Fatherhood”
4. On Black Fathers, the African American Image and MyBrownBaby Etiquette
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including the upcoming "The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path To American Leadership," which he co-authored with Al Sharpton.