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Commentary: Where are the Black Women in 'SATC'?

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I love "Sex and the City." A lot. I can recite stretches of dialogue, I remember exactly what Carrie was wearing when she said, "your girl is lovely, Hubbell," and I get weepy just thinking about Miranda's grief in "My Motherboard, Myself." I know the series inside and out. Now. Having said that, I have to address something that's been driving me crazy since the show first aired, in 1998. Back then, I was a 23-year-old junior magazine editor who'd just moved to New York City and was experiencing my own SATC moment. Along with my friends, a group of young, professional, attractive Black women like myself, I cocktailed at fashion parties, wore clothes I couldn't afford and dated wildly inappropriate men. I watched "Sex and the City" and recognized their world as the same one we were navigating, but we were nowhere to be found on the show. The problem wasn't even the absence of a Black main character -- this was a show about four White friends, I got that -- but their environment was totally White-washed. It's unrealistic to paint a portrait of New York, especially the fashion, art, media and entertainment industries, and completely leave out Black faces. We absolutely exist in this world! The few times a Black woman showed up on the show, the character was either an embarrassment (exhibit A: Samantha's African-American boyfriend's sister, a chef who actually tried to beat up Sam in a club for dating her brother), or a nonsensical afterthought (exhibit B: The limo driver who picked up Carrie from her book party, and then treated her to a Gray's Papaya hot dog to celebrate. A hot dog). These Black women were not of the same social class as Carrie and the girls, and they were definitely painted in shades of  "other." And then, in 2008, first "Sex and the City" film premiered, and we were introduced to a new character -- Carrie's personal assistant, played by Jennifer Hudson. Finally, we got a Black character, but her sole purpose was to make sure Carrie's life didn't run off the rails (any more than it already had). Again, the character was not of the same ilk as the girls -- the whole thing smacked of tokenism, and it was too little too late. As much as I loved the "Sex and the City," the glaring absence of any real representation of what I know to be true of Black women in New York was frustrating. But over the years, I've learned to look at Carrie and her glittering circle of friends as raceless archetypes of certain women we all know. That way, I won't have to ask the question that's always gnawing at my brain -- where are the fabulous Black women?!
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