Friday, July 16, 2010

Much Ado About Chad Ochocinco

Unless, you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware of the Chad Ochocinco rumblings. A production member and a former contestant have sent emails to various bloggers and media outlets” accusing him of not wanting any black women on his show”. They went on to referencing his pre casting elimination process and comments. I can’t speak to the validity of any of these claims because I wasn’t there. Nonetheless, many of the almost non existent black women were eliminated from his reality show “Ultimate catch”. The eliminations resulted in a backlash from predominately black media outlets accusing Ochocinco of suffering from internalized racism; for having such a low percentage of black women on the show and rejecting the ones available to him.

Internalized Racism is a whole other blog topic which I will post about soon. However, I will touch on it briefly for those who unfamiliar with the term; Internalized racism occurs when people who are targeted by racism, are against their will, coerced and pressured to agree with distortions of racism. In societies where racist attitudes are pervasive and damaging, the victims are forced to turn these thoughts, stereotypes, attitudes, and beliefs upon themselves – agreeing with some of the conditioning, internalizing negative racist messages, resulting in mistreating oneself and members of one’s group, in the same ways they’ve been mistreated. A few examples;

• Victims of Internalized Racism see themselves or members of their as stupid, lazy, unimportant, or inferior
• Victims of Internalized Racism criticize or verbally attack each other, using the racist messages of our societies, or allow others in their group to do so.
• Victims of Internalized Racism often feel hopeless, despairing, and angry, which can makes them vulnerable to the lure of alcohol and other drugs for "relief" from those feelings; even though they know that this does additional harm to ourselves and our families.
• Victims of Internalized Racism often feel disconnected from other members of their group, or divide or categorize each other by behaviors or lifestyles, believing that some of us are "better" or "more legitimate" than others and that what some others do is "not part of" our cultures..
• Victims of Internalized Racism place higher value on members of their group who appear more white, and denigrate those who have darker skin, kinkier hair, or other "less white" features. We also do the reverse--we target those with lighter skins as not being "black enough," not legitimate persons of color.

No black person in western world has been spared from this defense mechanism. We are all still dealing with the effects of slavery, racism, and the effects of the institutionally racist world we inhabit. I barely scratched the surface and would like to address major breakthroughs in counseling, defined Internalized Oppression, expand on how it affects our community, leadership, individual relationships, children, causes us to internalized stereotypes , narrow black culture, mistrust our thinking and our people, etc. I’d also like to add my two cents (personal experience) but can’t in this post because I’d be here all day. The point is the anger directed at Ochocino isn’t superficial. As black women we expect to be revered, honored, desired, loved, and protected by black men – automatically. If anyone can appreciate our beauty regardless of how the media (based on us being ignored, overlooked, or sprinkled into mainstream advertisement, movies, shows, etc) see us – they can. The elimination of the few black contestants felt like a betrayal of the conspiratorial “Were in this together pact”. Going back to the show, I believe that’s why it caused an uproar.

Ms. Ethnicity offered a different perspective via twitter yesterday based on her personal relationship with Ochocino (5 years) and her experience in the “Ultimate catch’s” casting process. Ms.Ethnicity owns a talent agency name “Ethnicity Talent” her company was offered the opportunity to cast for Ochocino’s show “Ultimate catch”. She stated that the decision to take the job was a struggle and doesn’t personally believe in numerous women competing on a show for a man’s love – men should do the chasing. However, knowing Ochocino on a personal level helped quell her doubts. She knows him as an honorable man who would never mistreat the women or embarrass them in anyway, and felt it would be a fun experience, felt confident casting not only because she’d been in the industry for 10 years but was well aware of Ochocino’s type; predominantly African American with a sprinkling of other ethnicities but all curvy in the right places. She sent a list of suitable girls who Ochocino would definitely like to the main casting director, who reviewed the list, and was shocked to find out they only wanted to interview 5 of her girls – her immediate thoughts were they didn’t want the show to be “too black”. A term commonly used in the entertainment industry.

Ms Ethnicity goes on to say;

“Meanwhile Chad is taping dancing with the stars this entire time so he's not involved in the casting process at all. As soon as DWTS ends time for Chad to show up to start taping his show, his first time seeing any of the girls was the first day of taping!! He does what the producers tell him to do; they producers already know which girls are good for TV because they were holding extensive interviews the whole time Chad was doing DWTS. So on that clip board they handed him the names and numbers of the girls the producers casted for the show was already listed.”

“The show is not real! its casted, Chad is paid talent to play a role on a show. Trust me I've never seen him date any girls that look like the girls that were casted for that show except for maybe Rubi for 1-he likes to pursue not be pursued 2-the type of chicks he REALLY likes in REAL life weren’t even casted.”

On twitter, Ms. Ethnicity went on to say Ochocino couldn’t comment on the rumors since he’s under contract but felt compelled to do so on his behalf. She went on to ask her followers on twitter who they would pretend to be for money, and went on to say the “Nas, Ochie Wally” video was the video that made her a contender in the casting world. Yet, it was far from the image desired for her brand – a learning experience. Many people on twitter as well as I believes this “pretending” is a compromise of values. I honestly feel like him pretending to like everything other than black women is worse them him not liking black women. We as African American’s are still living with the psychological effects of slavery, racism and Institutionalized Racism. As unfair as it is, African American’s in the public eye (role models) don’t have the luxury of doing things for money, without regarding its effect on the community. Especially something as damaging as the “Ultimate Catch”, not only because it perpetuates negative stereotypes; black men with money only date white women. It reinforces internalized racism. The hurt felt over the first few episodes of the show isn’t superficial; it runs much deeper than the eye can see.

*Internalized Racism -

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