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CNN Uses Shaunie O’Neal As A Misguided Voice On the Portrayal of Black Women

Now Ladies…we all have a circle of friends who we shop with, have dinner with, attend concerts with, pretty much live out the “girlfriend creed” with, but how many of you are hanging out with or attending events with women who are constantly arguing, fighting and throwing drinks at you or the other women in your friendship circle. Well according to Shaunie O’Neal, the ex-wife of former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal and the Executive Producer of VH1’s reality show Basketball Wives, ‘we all know women like the ones on “Basketball Wives” …Women who are vocal if you cross them’. This statement comes from a CNN Commentary written by O’Neal discussing the negative portrayals of black women on reality TV.

Get real Shaunie…you are adding to the problem! The stereotypes and images that people have in their head of what and who black women are is portrayed that way on your show. In case you haven’t had an opportunity to watch your own product,  it’s a bunch of women– black women, who were involved in some shape, form or fashion with a NBA player but are now living on the beaches of Miami cussing, drinking and fighting each other everytime the camera is rolling.

I am sick of black women being portrayed as gold digging bitches that are only down for suckin’ and f%$#in’ when the dollars are on the nightstand.

O’Neal goes on to say in the piece, ‘As you see on the show, I’m not a big supporter of the bickering, drink throwing and fighting, but when you put a group of strong, independent and vocal women who are going through or just came out of a bad relationship together, there’s bound to be a little drama’.

Yeah, Shaunie you try to stay under the radar but you are just as guilty as the other women you share the screen with. You’ve had your moments of cussing someone out because their sister slept with your now ex-husband, or instigating an argument between two women because one slept with the other’s husband, or my personal favorite, walking into a restaurant to confront a woman over some ‘he said she said’ mess. Are we 5 years old?

Again…Really Shaunie…YOU are part of the problem!

Further on  in the piece O’Neal continues with ‘…That’s the heart of “Basketball Wives,” and I believe that if you look closely and beyond the arguing and the fighting, you’ll see a group of women trying to get their lives back on track and figure out who they really are. My role as executive producer of the show does not negate my concern for how black women are portrayed on reality TV, but I do believe that there are some shows attempting to strike a balance and have a positive message despite the drama. I’m personally working with Shed Media and VH1 to make sure that “Basketball Wives” stands among them.’

You can’t be the problem and the solution; real life just doesn’t work that way.

For all of the people who continue to put black women in a box, because of show’s like the Basketball Wives, I’m here to tell you there are many black women who travel to Martha’s Vineyard or the Hamptons for holiday (aka vacation), or hold the position of CEO, CFO, SVP of some of the country’s top Fortune 500 companies. There are black women who are business owners, who play golf and/or tennis, love the opera, shop at Tiffany’s and speak multiple languages. There are women who are Harvard and Princeton educated, who are married to white men, and send their kids to the best private schools in the city.

And YES, we have healthy, loving, supportive, authentic relationships with our friends.It’s time for society to take black women out of the box.

It’s time that we as black women take ourselves out of the box.

There are a number of women who are former and current wives or girlfriends of some of the league’s best, but those women are too classy for a show that continues to degrade the image of black women further. Look at Juanita Jordan, the ex-wife of Michael Jordan, or Cookie Johnson, the wife of NBA legend Magic Johnson, two women who not only portray class, but who are also mothers, business women and philanthropists offering not only their money and name but their time to worthy causes.

Shaunie if you want your show to be a shining light that empowers women as you mentioned in your commentary, shed some light on the dysfunction that’s happening in the Dade County Schools, or the homelessness that is facing a large part of the city’s population, or take up the issue of abuse against women.

No–wait.  Honestly, if you did that, it would be too much like right.

Your J.G.F.,

Marcelle English

About The Author


  1. Danette

    This article is so on point. Time out for the nonsense. From the Atlanta House Wife’s to Basketball Wife’s, both shows really could work on giving more of a positive look on Black Women
    The arguing, bad language, fighting over men and so forth is really tired and old.

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