I’ll never forget the dinner conversation I had years ago with my then-12th-grade niece, who informed me over a plate of chicken and greens that a critical mass of her girlfriends were scheming on ways to become strippers at Magic City and Club Onyx, two of Atlanta’s most notorious strip clubs. They were a bunch of pretty girls with weaves and bubble booties and faces full of Maybelline, totally devoid of the capacity to dream bigger than the place sketched for them by a bunch of rappers and their hip hop odes to “independent,” p-poppin’ guhls dropping it for racks-on-racks-on-racks. I didn’t want to believe her. Wanted to be assured that she was just messing with me and that, really, her friends were capable of having larger ambitions. And certainly seeing that there is no pot of gold at the end of a strip club rainbow. But my niece was telling nothing but truth that night. And it broke my heart. Because no good could come from such things.
I was reminded of this earlier this week when Jada Pinkett Smith posted a video to her Facebook page, updating fans on the progress of a CNN documentary she’s working on—a film about modern-day slavery and its ties to sex trafficking. Jada was filming here in my backyard—the heart of Atlanta—and had her eyes opened wide by two strippers who made clear to her that strip clubs in Atlanta, ground zero for the sex trafficking industry—are a gateway to sex trafficking and slavery. It seems that Jada hadn’t considered how the promise of making big money and being independent and earning the “respect” of adoring “fans”—all of the things touted in everything from rap songs to Rihanna’s Instagram page to episodes of the uber popular Love and Hip Hop and the Real Housewives of Atlanta—convince young Black girls to dive booty-first into an industry that is literally preying on them.
She missed it. All too many of us do.
We all need to be better about listening to and seeing—really listening to and seeing—what our children are taking into their souls when they’re digesting today’s pop culture, and then we need to get out our scalpels and dissect for them just how this madness is drip-dropping into their brains and poisoning their wells.
My nephew Miles sees it. On his blog, TheDarkerLens.com, he wrote this week about how he finally made the connection between the outlandish bickering and fisticuffs on Basketball Wives LA and all of the fist-fights he’s been seeing at his high school. Witness what Miles wrote in his post, “Cat Fight: Why Is It Okay For Black Girls?“:
What the media is doing now is basically feeding into the minds of black girls that in order to be famous and have money, you need to do one of two things: 1)marry a rich basketball star so you don’t necessarily have to work at anything, and; 2) get hyped for no reason and fight women with the same mindset. Now I know that reality TV most of the time is fake, but that isn’t the problem. Because of this, we have girls that are fighting and cursing at each other, in the hopes of not only gaining respect, but to also prepare themselves for their potential “job.” This also halts their learning drive, ‘cause who needs to learn algebra or social studies when all you need to do is pull out a girl’s weave? It would be different if these “Basketball Wives” were everyday people, but not only are they well-off, but rather paid if you ask me. Basically, the example of a black woman in the media now is a woman with nothing to her name other than her husband… watching this show has solved the question in my mind towards why some girls choose to use violence rather than to solve issues in a more productive manner.
I’m proud of Miles for noticing and trying to connect the dots. I’m proud of Jada for doing the same, and as a mother of two girlpies being raised in the hub of strip club culture and sex trafficking, I’m looking forward to her documentary, especially if at least part of the focus is on pop culture, hip hop and its influence on young women (and men!) who’ve come to think that stripping is just “fun” rather than a gateway to modern-day slavery.
Please do press play on Jada’s video up top, and show Miles, my nephew, some love by reading his blog post over at TheDarkerLens.com, where he’s looking for insight on the culture and its effects on his peers.
Happy weekend, darlings. Love on your babies and show them the way.
1. Confession: I Let My Kids Watch The Kardashians and Love & Hip Hop Atlanta
2. Radio Station Bans Rick Ross, Lil Wayne Over Sexist Rape Lyrics: ‘Bout Time!
3. Hands Off This Girl: One Woman’s Fight To Help End the Sex Trafficking of Children
4. Radio Station Bans Rick Ross, Lil Wayne Over Sexist Rape Lyrics: ‘Bout Time!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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I tried to share this on Miles’ site, but it wouldn’t post: I graduated high school 14 years ago, and these same things rang true depending on the school and neighborhood. In my opinion, it really comes from the environment these young ladies are being raised. I saw both women who worked hard and girls who wanted an ‘easy’ life. It is important for the women in these girls’ lives to be a role model versus letting them figure it out for themselves or being so caught up in their own struggle they aren’t able to help the younger generations. I really don’t think anyone wakes up thinking this is good, but for some reason it appears to be ‘fun’ and ‘acceptable’. I agree with you that the media does a great job of showcasing poor behavior, and families are doing a great job of allowing the media to win. I believe that if families took ahold of their children then the media would have less control, but that is just my opinion. I know this wouldn’t be the cure all because some are determined to make their lives hard, but I am confident that there would be less girls making poor decisions and boys too. Thanks for sharing!
I am a mother with three boys so, just like you and Jada, I COMPLETELY missed this. It’s scary and sad to admit that we have very little positive representation of females (especially black females) in the media and even scarier that it can invade us in our homes and poison the minds of our female relatives and friends. That’s why it’s even more important to show the positive sides of it. So KUDOS to you for sharing this and I will waiting anxiously to share Jada’s documentary to other people I know with girls.