Having the pleasure of working in Higher Education comes with a variety of experiences. At any given moment, I could be embracing a student in need, speaking at an event, trying to do the shoot challenge or preparing for class. While trying to get some nourishment in residential dining, I looked up and the TV was showing a popular reality show. As all of the televisions in residential dining and on campus for that matter are geared toward the students…understandable.
Now, I want to be crystal clear about my relationship with the television. I don’t watch reality TV and for the most part, I watch very little of anything. Of course, with the exception of sports. I have the NBA channels where I get all of the basketball games and much more! The TV in my sitting area when turned on will either be on one of two channels. Sports Center being the first and CNN is the second. Other than the news and sports I find very little value in the shows of today.
However, within the last few months, I found myself watching something other than sports or the news. I reconnected with Good Times, as for me there have only been a few shows that have portrayed black family life in a positive manner. Good Times, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and of course, The Cosby Show. Note, A Different World is wrapped around The Cosby Show. Last week the episode dealt with Michael, the youngest of the Evans clan who has aspirations of becoming an attorney. He came home with a low test score on a standardized exam.
Instantly, I knew where the lesson was going. The producers, writers and actors were dealing with the bias of standardized testing in the early 70’s. And here we are in 2018 and having the same conversation. Or maybe, we’re not having the conversation as little has changed. When Debbie Allen played JJ’s fiancé’ they tackled the drug epidemic and the use of heroin. Surprise, surprise, the use of heroin is again on the rise within communities around the world.
It appears just like fashion…history repeats itself. We’re finding ourselves defending a woman’s right to choice, hiring and wage equity and voter rights to name a few. Many believe that mass media is leading to mass conformity. We’re so consumed with fashion, technology and reality TV that we’re drinking the Kool-Aid without asking any questions. We’re told…be a consumer, get a good job and then be available for your family.
I’m not certain about you, but this method seems to be out of order. There are many who don’t do the math first, so when life happens they’re all turned around. I make it known to all that my priorities are in this order: God, Family and Empowerment! Prince wrote a song titled “Dreamer” the first sentence reads: I was born, on the plantation in the United States of the Red, White and Blue. He shared with Tavis Smiley that America is beginning to look like a plantation and we’re all indentured servants.
As I prepare to equip those around MEE with the tools to ask questions, have their own perspective and think for themselves. I barely have time to keep up with MEE let alone the lives of the many reality TV stars. One of my favorite personal quotes read: Instead of watching someone else’s realty, create your own!