Civil rights group ColorOfChange.Org has set its sights on Oxygen Media’s reality show All My Babies Mamas and accused it of perpetuating racist stereotypes about African-American families.
The non-profit group has launched an online petition to gather public support and says it expects signatures to reach 50,000 by the end of next week. On Friday, the group published the wording shown below on its Facebook page:
“Oxygen Media’s upcoming show All My Babies Mamas exploits persistent racial stereotypes that marginalize Black Americans.”
“Tell Oxygen Media to cancel All My Babies Mamas today.”
In fact, All My Babies Mamas is still in development and according to The Hollywood Reporter, a representative from the network told them that no footage for the show had been shot yet and the cast is yet to be finalized.
However, a one-hour special is in the works, and the protest arose after informal YouTube footage of its ‘star’— Shawty Lo — surfaced online.
Lo, whose real name is Carlos Walker, is a 36-year-old rapper from Atlanta and father of 11 in real life. His 19-year-old girlfriend is the same age as his oldest daughter, and in the clip, Lo is seen having difficulty remembering the names of his children.
In the planned show, as the name All My Babies Mamas suggests, cameras would essentially follow Lo in his daily life.
ColorOfChange hopes its petition will convince Oxygen Media and the show’s advertisers to withdraw support from the project.
“We want to help the media understand this is not just entertainment. This is not just about profit. This is about people’s lives,” ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson told THR.
Robinson said that while there were many television shows — including Honey Boo Boo — which depict stereotypes about certain social/racial groups, he believed All My Babies Mamas is a more dangerous because there is “such a wide array” of shows featuring White Americans to offset one negative one.
“It may be very problematic to white folks who live in that region of the country, but it doesn’t impact the full view of white Americans,” said Robinson.
THR says Robinson went on to cite academic-social studies which have found that negative media portrayals of African-Americans often lead to prejudicial experiences for community members in institutions, such as courts, schools, during hospitals visits, and elsewhere.
Oxygen have flatly denied claims that All My Babies Mamas perpetrates racist stereotypes. In a statement the network wrote:
“Oxygen’s one-hour special in development is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society. It is a look at one unique family and their complicated, intertwined life. Oxygen Media’s diverse team of creative executives will continue developing the show with this point of view.”
“If I wasn’t taking care of my kids then you would really dog me out, but I’m taking care of my kids, providing for my family.”
ColorOfChange say they intend to present their petition to Oxygen and the show’s potential advertisers at a later date.
Meanwhile, Robinson’s final points were blunt:
“We want to be very clear to these corporations that they can’t come for our money by day and support programming that dehumanizes us by night.”
“There is a wide range of reality programming we could point a finger at. But we are sending a larger message that the community is tired of the onslaught of this type of program, with the idea that this [Babies Mamas] is the ‘reality’ for black folks.”
What do you think? Does the planned show sound like a harmless portrayal or the kind of television programming that could cause far-reaching social problems?