::The state of black women ::

Over the years Dr. Melody McCloud has served as a media consultant and contributor, providing medical advice and commentary to numerous network and cable television outlets—CNN and others; also radio programs and/or publications. Additional commentaries have been on social issues, be it race relations; personal responsibility, negative imagery of Black women (at the hands of others and the misdeeds of some Black women); improving self-esteem and social skills (“Smile, ladies!”) and more.

Topics currently dear to her heart, about which she also lectures, are outlined below. They include MTV “dog leash” videos; “Baby Beyonce” contests; ethnic hairstyles in corporate America boardrooms and personal responsibility.

After white fraternity pledges distributed photos of naked Black women, Dr. McCloud wrote the following article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). The full article is below, followed by what was edited and printed in the AJC.

OPEN SEASON on AMERICA’S BLACK WOMEN?
Public flogging of Black women must stop

KEY POINTS:

*
Hip-hop and rap “music” have been nothing but a detriment to the Black community. It has adversely affected respect, attire, language skills, proper decorum and social interactions in the community.

*
We’ve gone from “My Cherie Amour” to “bitch, ho, slut and whore.” This is unacceptable. This must stop.

*
Denigrating and disrespecting Black women is not a sport. Black men must stop doing it and Black women must stop participating in it.

*
The problem has multiple prongs, and so does the remedy.

Why are Black women so increasingly ignored, abhorred, disrespected and rejected in this country? Who declared “open season” on us, and why?

Increasingly over the past decade the media has projected images that Black women are “public enemy #1” who can be battered about, cast down, kicked aside, ignored, denigrated and disrespected at the will of all who take delight and sport in doing so. I say it is tantamount to a public flogging in the modern-day Town Square—the media, the Internet, TV, movies and music videos.

The latest town square venue? The UGA campus where Chi Phi fraternity pledges distributed images of naked Black women to passers-by. Why? Because they could. It’s acceptable sport in the 21st century to do so. They’re just Black women; who cares? One student told a reporter he thought it was funny. It’s not.

The late comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, enjoyed a lifetime of fame and fortune and received many a laugh saying, “That’s the story of my life, I don’t get no respect.” Many of today’s Black women may feel Dangerfield’s battle cry is one, they too, can claim. But for many Black women, getting “no respect” is not funny and hardly any are laughing.

The public disregard and disrespect of Black women is pervasive. More and more, Black male models and actors are readily cast opposite White and Hispanic women, to the blatant, total exclusion of Black women. Magazine ads frequently engage colorism—favoring light-skinned Blacks over brown-skinned ones. Lighter Black women often get the sexy ads and poses; they’re positioned to look soft and desirable while brown-skinned women are posed stern, frowning and even masculine with bald heads. Often African-born models are selected to the exclusion of native-born Black American women.

It also seems to me that the media are ever eager to show the often embarrassing antics of U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, model Naomi Campbell, Omarosa and others, but won’t allow for others to be heard or seen. It seems, “well, there’s Oprah,” so that’s all the room they’ll allow for “good” Black women of richer hue.

Sadly, too, those Blacks—including Oprah—in position to present Black women in a better light, often fail to do so. Tyler Perry and Martin Lawrence, more so, get rich on the image of the fat, gun-toting, loud Black granny.

Shonda Rhimes, the Black female creator/producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” has the Black male character sleeping with Asian Sandra Oh (who brushes her teeth in the kitchen sink!) while Chandra Wilson, the lone Black actress on the show, is “the Nazi,” “the bitch.”

And MTV—whose president, Christina Norman, is a Black woman—recently aired a cartoon to young Saturday morning viewers entitled “Where My Dogs At,” which had Black women squatting on all fours, tethered to leashes. In 2004, U.S. Army reservist Sgt. Lynndie England subjected Iraqi prisoners at Abu Grhaib to the same denigration and she was convicted and sentenced to prison. Where is the justice for Black women?

Mind you, however, the Iraqi prisoners were tethered against their will. Why would the MTV president have such unconscionable racial insensitivity, and why, why would Black women participate in such debasing imagery? I submit many of these sorely misguided Black women are merely seeking acceptance, appreciation and value in a society that affords them none. Everyone wants to be valued; sadly these women choose a disparaging route that leads to shame for themselves and their race.

The effects of these demeaning images and absolute disregard for the Black female demographic in this country send a loud, disturbing message and are detrimental to our society at large. The negative imagery affects not only the psyche of Black men and women, but also that of impressionable boys and girls of all races.

As a physician I’m likewise concerned about the effect such constant societal rejection has on Black women’s physical health. I can say with certainty that constant rejection, disrespect and denigration cause stress. Stress increases the release of cortisol and other stress hormones. These high levels lead to high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, central obesity and more, all of which can lead to death. Prolonged stress also severely affects the immune system, diminishing its ability to fight against life-threatening diseases. Black women have a very high incidence and death rate from these killer conditions. Connect the dots.

Someone must give voice to this societal poison. White women aren’t going to say anything because they readily benefit from negative images of Black women. Many white men—media executives, and obviously some UGA frat brothers—are having too much fun and cash flow at the expense of Black women’s dignity and social value; and sadly, many Black men are inexplicably silent, standing sideline. And people wonder why Black women are “angry” and “tired.” Some posters to message boards proclaim that any women addressing this topic are “just darkie black women with self-hatred.” No. We don’t hate ourselves; we know who we are. Many of us are successful, well-groomed, well-spoken entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and homeowners, who are also loving, passionate, funny, exciting, devoted and sensual. What we hate is how we’re portrayed and disrespected in the media and in real life.

As a Black woman I’ve tried for years, beginning in 1999, to shed light on this issue with media executives, television producers, literary agents and publishing editors, to no avail. And earlier this year I wrote Marc Cherry, creator of the hit show, “Desperate Housewives.”

Normally, to see a Black woman get a recurring role in the number one prime-time network program would be a major coup, a step in the right direction for American media and Black imagery. But alas, once again, the lone Black woman—on a show that mostly deals with sexy, alluring women with kinky trysts and family matters—is portrayed as some psychopath who chains her sons in the basement. How did her storyline even fit the show? Did they just have to cast a Black woman and decided to make her “the evil, demented, crazy one”? These images—often to the exclusion of more positive, loving ones—must stop.

As my cries went unheard/ignored, increasing numbers of disgraceful, disrespectful and demeaning videos, photographs and movie clips with disparaging images of Black women were seen by millions worldwide.

The problem has multiple prongs, and so does the remedy. For starters, I suggest new congressional hearings and laws to effect a tangible change in the depiction of women in music videos. Black women who participate in such videos must stop; there are better, more respectful ways to gain acceptance.

Parents need to stop allowing their children to listen to the despicable lyrics in hip-hop and rap songs and stop buying those recordings; they are poison to the mind. We’ve gone from “My Cherie Amour” to “bitch, ho, slut and whore.” This is unacceptable. This must STOP. Black boys need to don proper attire and learn to speak to girls and women respectfully. And Black girls/women need to stop allowing men to speak to them in any which way and again, stop participating in disrespectful deeds.

Beyonce’ and the like need to stop shaking their booty, mimicking orgasmic seizures on stage for young girls to see and later have their children emulate in “Baby Beyonce’” contests. Black men need to step forward: Say and do something. Honor your women. Speak to young boys.

Black film and music producers need to be socially conscious and realize what effect the images they set forth have on the community and the world; you can so better “represent.” White media and ad executives must advance past colorism; they also need to cast Black actresses and models of all hues in loving, desirable roles.

White (and all) parents need to stop teaching racist attitudes to their offspring. And UGA students need to find something else to do in the town square. Denigrating and disrespecting Black women is not a sport. It’s sad that members of the Chi Phi fraternity think it is.

Copyright 2006 Dr. Melody T. McCloud

An edited version of the above article appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But unbeknownst to Dr. McCloud, the title was changed and the published copy included photographs of Cynthia McKinney and Naomi Campbell. This was not Dr. McCloud’s doing, nor does she, in any way, endorse or support the antics/misdeeds of these women when behaving badly.

As the article appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Black women demand respect By MELODY McCLOUD Published on: 09/12/06

Excerpt of Dr. McCloud’s submission “Black Girls Gone Wild?”

…But the first week of April—the week I say was one of “black girls gone wild”—didn’t help as I read of Cynthia McKinney’s security guard incident; Naomi Campbell’s “alleged” cell phone attack on her worker and the rape accusation by a black stripper against the mostly white lacrosse team of Duke University. That accusation, if true, is one thing; but if false—it will set black women back for years, and we really don’t need any of this right now. Or ever. As black women in America, we already have enough to fight for—and against—to simply be accepted and valued in this land.

…With that, we don’t need even two or three of our own possibly bringing shame to our race, gender and modern-day cause by committing inappropriate, unlawful, or dishonest acts.

Sisters, walk worthy. Do not don the garments of misdeeds, disrespect and disgrace. We are better than that. Don’t gratuitously cry racism when there is none. Remember violence solves nothing; and don’t willingly put yourself in situations where it’s already known you will be disrespected! You are not an object; you are a human being, a soul. Respect yourself. Read more…

Before Bill Cosby began his current crusade re: the Black community; before author Shelby Steele’s latest book, Dr. Melody T. McCloud made similar comments in a 1992 USA TODAY…

Do “ethnic” hairstyles help or hinder your corporate success? Black Enterprise and some other companies have established hair codes which have sparked firestorms for some. Dr. McCloud’s view:

…If you are seeking a job in a major corporation and seek to reach high levels, you are what’s being presented to clients, etc., and you must (and should want to) don a groomed, professional, polished look—a look that fits the company profile. What’s the problem? Do you want to fight to wear your twists and dreads or do you want to fight to make it to the corner office instead of being stuck in an office cubicle?

… I’d want my employer to notice my brain, not be distracted by my hairstyle.

… As I say in some of my lectures: “Dress like you want to be treated.” If you dress like a slut, a thug, etc., you’re likely gonna be treated like one. If you dress for success (as you know is deemed by your company and your society, etc.), that’s one less barrier for you and then you/they can focus on your total qualifications and you can get that CEO position. The fight for “hair” is wasted energy, IMO; there are bigger issues to fight for.

I also tell my audiences: “It may not be fair, but it’s a fact.” Image matters. You will not get sent to the big jobs if your boss finds your appearance inconsistent with the image he/she wants his company to have. Read more…

Among other organizations and publications, Dr. Melody T. McCloud has been featured in—or done presentations for—the following:


Among other organizations and publications, Dr. Melody T. McCloud has been featured in—or done presentations for—the following:

         
         
       

POETRY


   “Of nature, of love, of souls apart…

      A poet’s words come from the heart.”

These introductory words begin the heartfelt, poetic journey through over 100 poems using everyday language to relay poetic expressions of everyday life and issues, based “on stories lived, or stories heard.” Grouped topically, MELODIES of the HEART shares images of life; faith, family & friends; erotic love and forbidden romance—the agony and ecstasy of it all; racism; black life in America; airheads and drama queens; death; and there’s even a section of just “venting.”

In consideration of the country, and the world’s current political climate—multiple wars; violence, terrorism, hatred, “religious wars,” etc.—we submit the following poem, written Nov. 23, 2002. After the poem will follow a few
additional excerpts from Melodies of the Heart: Poems of Life & Love.

WHAT KIND OF WORLD IS THIS I’M IN?

What kind of world is this I’m in?

It’s morally confused, with rampant sin.

Cheat on a test? No big deal.

Hollywood’s faux endorsed as real.

POETRY

“Of nature, of love, of souls apart…
A poet’s words come from the heart.”

These introductory words begin the heartfelt, poetic journey through over 100 poems using everyday language to relay poetic expressions of everyday life and issues, based “on stories lived, or stories heard.” Grouped topically, MELODIES of the HEART shares images of life; faith, family & friends; erotic love and forbidden romance—the agony and ecstasy of it all; racism; black life in America; airheads and drama queens; death; and there’s even a section of just “venting.”

In consideration of the country, and the world’s current political climate—multiple wars; violence, terrorism, hatred, “religious wars,” etc.—we submit the following poem, written Nov. 23, 2002. After the poem will follow a few additional excerpts from Melodies of the Heart: Poems of Life & Love.

WHAT KIND OF WORLD IS THIS I’M IN?

What kind of world is this I’m in?
It’s morally confused, with rampant sin.
Cheat on a test? No big deal.
Hollywood’s faux endorsed as real.
The INS lets criminals in;
Native born blacks still can’t win.
“Glamour slammers,” with yoga and such;
Who knew prisoners deserved so much?
Parents afraid to rear their child;
The rod is spared, the kid runs wild.
“Politically correct,” what one must be—
All fake-ass folk in harmony.
You’re a celebrity and do a crime?
Don’t even sweat! You’ll do no time.
World War III about to erupt.
Where’s one politician who’s not corrupt?
Christmas no longer celebrates Christ;
Omit His name, or pay a price.
Priests and bishops—straight or gay;
That’s cool with God, some now say.
What in the world is going on?
If this keeps up, the world is gone.
But with support and love of friends,
We must endure until the end.

Copyright 2002 Dr. Melody T. McCloud

Below are just a few lines from some very intriguing poems. Enjoy!

SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE MY VERY BEST LOVER
“…With you I have but one desire, to be in bed all night and day. Where else on Earth would I want to be? / …Sounds like you are my very best lover. Too bad you’re just a horrible flu! And you keep on giving, when I feel I can’t take any more; You keep holding on…”

TODAY’S BLACK CHURCH: GOD’S HOUSE?
“…If you ask as they depart / What the sermon was about, / They’re not too sure, but they know / Who sure did dance and shout. /…And when the choir sings the chorus / For the fifteenth time / my spirit grieves / I doubt, my Lord, that’s what you had in mind…”

A LOG IN A FOG
“The first wife had substance but, you say, no style. / You stayed with her just for a while. / The second wife has style, but, your words, “no brain.” / Strangely it is with her you remain. / Her dad says she’s “useless, just like her mom” / He saw his mistake / You blindly hold on / …Yet you stay with Ms. Useless; your mental state bogged. / You remain there all wet, like a log in a fog.”

THE PHYSICIAN’S HEART
May God guide my words, my thoughts, my hands / I’m here to serve in the healing plan. /…Your utmost health is my goal / ‘Tis my prayer of heart and soul.

NATURE MOURNS WHEN WE’RE APART
“…The earth quakes as angels spar; / Tornadoes blow when we’re apart. / Hurricanes erupt the sea / All cause you’re not here with me. /…The moon stays hidden from night’s view / Daybreak starts without its dew. / Rain is dry and fire’s all wet; / Flowers don’t bloom and dogwoods fret…”

SOMEONE WHO KNOWS
“…He is someone who, even when silent, speaks volumes to my soul. /…whose moans I love to hear as… / Whose toes I … /…Whose touch and caress sends… /…Whose tender kiss I… / …Who is he, you ask? / He’s someone who knows how to love me.”

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