After recently reading Kelly Smith Beaty’s article Will the Real Black Atlanta Please Stand Up on The Huffington Post, I was left with a host of conflicted feelings. The author suggested a number of past and present public figures in Atlanta that she deems as more worthy of screen time than the cast members of the popular reality shows Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and The Real Housewives of Atlanta. In Beaty’s opinion, the wives of Atlanta’s black millionaires and CEOs are more deserving of gracing our televisions. She believes that black mayors, ministers, and moguls would be a better, more accurate portrayal of the “jewel of the south” than the likes of Linnethia Leakes and Momma Dee.
As a current Atlanta resident, I appreciate her argument, but I find it problematic that she implies we should only celebrate the successes of certain kinds of blacks — mainly well-educated, nonthreatening blacks. Perhaps she does not realize that high-paying, white-collar careers are not the realities or the aspirations of all blacks in this city. Beaty’s article made me think about discussions of the “perfect victim” that took place in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. According to Abagond, a perfect victim is “the victim of a crime or wrongdoing who has nothing ‘wrong’ with them, like a police record.” Even though black men are unjustly killed by police each and every day, their deaths rarely receive national attention. However, Trayvon’s youth and unblemished past made him a more “perfect victim” than your average black man.
It seems as if many blacks, not just Beaty, only wish to see the “perfect black Atlantan” featured on television. A “perfect black Atlantan” is someone who went to all the right schools, belongs to all the right organizations, works a prestigious job, and has no dirty laundry to air in public. Rappers and video models: please exit stage left. Former strippers and drug dealers need not apply. Do you think that we should strive to only have black people on TV who are easily digested by the mainstream (white) media? And is that really real?