In Defense of NeNe Leakes

This week the internet was buzzing with the news that NeNe Leakes was on the cover of Ebony Magazine‘s Power 100 issue. Not only was she draped in diamonds lounging in a bathtub, but the cover was appropriately titled the Money and Power issue. My first thought was ewwwww because I’ve always thought Ebony covers were held for the Black Elite based on their entertainment, cross over appeal, or simple community activism. I honestly think Ruby Dee or Oprah Winfrey when I hear the words Ebony Magazine.

Not anymore. For those of us clutching our pearls in shame for this display of “blackness”, we have to admit something. We created the monster. America treats reality tv as if it’s on the same level as Law and Order, Gray’s Anatomy, and god forbid, Scandal. We actually tune in for the weekly train wreck and gawk, complain at the negative imagery, only to do it all again sitting in the same spot of the sofa the next week. I can’t blame tv execs, because they only create what they know people will watch. Imagine how many tv scripted sitcoms and dramas are canned every year because they simply can’t compete with NeNe and Sheree going at it or Steebie J  runnin’ game on Joseline while professing his love for both of his girlfriends while sitting on the couch in therapy.

I’ve backed off of watching too much reality tv save The Voice, because it takes jobs away from talented actors who actually train and refine their craft with the goal of being  taken seriously.  I also know that the imagery, however scripted, is largely what other groups of people use to define their perspective of the African-American culture. So while I hate that Nene is on the cover when there are 99 other qualified, educated, non-bullying  people, I know exactly why she’s being rewarded. We constantly reward bad behavior under the guise of “hustle”. So, while I disagree with the bad behavior that got her to where she is, we gladly ushered her into the limelight. I rest my case.


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