After years of not watching, to viewing clips of recently hired co-host Amanda Seales’ in her new role, I stmbled across what is truly bothersome about The Real. It does not take long to realize that the discussions, though seemingly anchored in the non-white experience, is hardly about the non-black woman in America. Rather, The Real exists to make blackness “real” to the white viewers.
By “real,” I want to be clear, I do not mean authentic. What I do mean is that the show exists to enable the white female viewer to superficially engage that which she will never have the full means to understand. In fact, the show precludes actual understanding, but enables the co hosts to function as the Asian, Hispanic, Biracial, and Black full-figured friends the white female viewer does not have in real life.
An important component to this tokenized visual friendship is that it operates with a sort of predictability and apology that does not disturb white female viewer comfort. Former co-host Tamar Braxton’s abrupt “departure” reflects the fate of black women who colors outside the lines of a demanded comfort within white supremacist spaces.
Much of this comfort remains in refusing to detach black women, and black people, from stereotypes. Viewers witnessed this with the Tamar and Jeannie “tension,” a perspective that attained the trajectory it did because of a steadfast belief that black women have issues with non-black women of color. If we were in fact being real, it is actually the other way around–but that is a topic for another post. The very same praxis surfaced with the comments that accompanied what many believed to be Amanda Seales’ expressionless reaction to Jeannie Mai’s engagement. This falsified perception exists so that the Latina, Asian, and Biracial constituency remain sources of tokenized “exotica” and black women remain espoused to a socially engineered anger which, in this anti-black society, functions as synonymous to ugly.
It is also imperative to mention, that though black men are not a consistent presence on the show, a core component to black female presence on the show, is to castigate the black man.
This praxis, paired with the show’s constant caping for interracial relationships, illustrates the black man as only viable when in a union with the non-black woman, or the portrait of toxicity for a label this anti black climate prevents him from actualizing.
Though new host Amandla Seales, as an educated black woman and a profound speaker who steps up for black women where Tamara Mowry and Loni Love fall short, she also fills the anti black space’s void to castigate black men. Seales possesses a black feminist view which translates to appease the invisible forces that make the show possible. In this link, for example, it is clear that Seales means well, however, her comments, in this particular space, allow a white network and white viewers the necessary space to deflect from their roles in the larger racial paradigm and displace their evil onto black men.
By advocating against black men and possessing an angry-ugliness, the black female presence on The Real satiates demands to ensure white female comfort; however, the most pronounced way this show satiates this desire is its promotion of interracial relationships.
With the exception of Seales’, every other host is openly involved with a man outside her race. The two black co-hosts are with white men, Adrienne Bailon’s husband, according to Bailon, is “halfrican American,” and Jeannie Mai is recently engaged to a black rapper Jeezy. While seemingly reflective of the times, these interracial unions deplete ideas of nationalism that would upset white female viewer comfort. Particularly, if these hosts were all espoused to men of their races or ethnicities, they would appear invested in expanding their cultural platform and not a platform for white hegemony. Whites ultimately benefit from the global nudge towards interracial relationships, because as blacks and other groups of color dilute their own bloodline, whites ensure theirs remains the majority.
Here, I am going to say something that I truly wish did not matter. What I am about to say stares the viewer in the face upon looking at the show’s promotional pictures. Though seemingly apologetic and unfiltered, Seales also aesthetically functions to satiate white America’s demands for black female representation. Particularly, Seales is not especially sun-kissed, full-featured, and wears lightened hair. Thus, even when Seals dons an afro, its golden frosting illuminates white affect. Additionally, Seales, as the daughter of a Grenadian migrant, represents a black constituency that chose its presence in the United States. It seems remiss to ignore the reality that these attributes make Seales’ assertiveness far more approachable under the white gaze. Specifically, though intelligent and outspoken, Seales’ appearance strokes the white female ego, flatterering white women by imitiating a western trait deemed globally desirable.
Conclusively, The Real, like countless other big and small screen examples, betray western media as displaying the depths white supremacy will go to actualize an inherently anti-black agenda. Nevertheless, if you choose to tune in, be sure to never tune out anti-blackness as an ever-present societal muse.