When is keeping it real, wrong?

I’ve been trying to avoid blasting “Basketball Wives,” mostly because as many people diss the show, there are many more — to the tune of 3.5 million for the show’s premiere — who seem to love it. And they watch now moreso because of the reality show star Tami Roman, who got her start on the “Real World” in 1993.
I learned of Tami’s second wave of popularity firsthand when I had the experience of being backstage when some of the basketball “wives” sat on a reality TV panel at the recent ESSENCE Music Festival, an event that was met with criticism when it was announced, but found a standing room only audience when it happened. The applause for Tami was deafening, even louder than that for “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star, Nene Leakes.
I get it — sort of. There’s something fascinating about a woman who holds no cut cards, and won’t hesitate to slap the brown off another woman, especially when she has it coming. We are of a culture where getting somebody told and keeping it real are prized personality traits. But Tami, a real-life “Angela,” the fired up, neck rolling, loud-talking heroine of Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married?,” has done nothing to be prized or celebrated. She is a classic case of when keeping it real goes wrong.
Her highlights of Season 2, include starting a fight at a ritzy Miami fundraiser where she popped off her shoes and tried to fight her co-star Jennifer Williams. Later in the season, she attacked another co-star, Evelyn Lozada. Monday night’s Season 3 episode shows a surly Roman jumping across a sofa and slapping “Basketball Wives” newcomer Meeka Claxton, which has resulted in a lawsuit.
I no longer watch “Basketball Wives” because of my distaste for watching grown women of color act a primetime fool. I saw the Twitter comments Tuesday morning, the day after Roman slapped Claxton, and pulled up the clip on YouTube. I was disturbed to find people declaring #TeamTami and practically congratulating her for winning a fight. I’m sorry (not really), but when grown women show their natural behinds — and other blurred-out parts — in public, there is no winner and there is nothing to be cyber hi-fived on. It’s a lose-lose situation, if for no other reason than the very important one that it reflects poorly on the women specifically involved, and the ones who share their color in general.

Point blank: We don’t have the White privilege of being thought of individuals who act on their own accord. Even though we know the difference, mainstream society takes it as proof of ugly stereotypes about Black women and processes it as “Well, you know how Black women can be…”
Tami Roman doesn’t need our cheers or our co-signs. She needs to be told to sit down. That reckless behavior is out of order. It reeks of lacking anger management and self control, and it’s appallingly obvious that she needs a therapist’s intervention, STAT! You might call it drama, entertainment, or funny. I won’t. I call it BS!

Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com.

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