It’s Time to Bury the Ratchet

by Liane Membis

Last week, Michaela Angela Davis spoke with Jacque Reid on the Tom Joyner Morning Show about a new campaign she is spearheading at Spelman College called “Bury the Ratchet”. Davis is a leading image activist that works to transform the ideologies associated with popular depictions in today’s society and culture by supporting and promoting positive images.

Davis described the campaign as an awareness project to reduce negative messages that have become associated with women of color from Atlanta because of reality television shows. In the interview, Davis says that the project is more of a “pro-leadership” campaign rather than an “anti-reality show” movement.

“[Many women] find when they say are from Atlanta the first image that comes to mind is mean, gold digging women….It has become completely evident that there has been a brand of women from Atlanta that are adverse to what most of these women are like,” Davis says. The image activist described how show producers seem to only pinpoint one type of black woman to represent Atlanta, those that represent violence and “black girl pain”.

“The goal [of the movement] is to get the spotlight off the ratchetness and on the successful women in Atlanta”.

Through a symposium at Spelman College in March 2013, Davis, along with other community leaders and scholars, will engage in an open conversation about the role reality television is playing within African-American culture and its impacts on society. The goal of the movement will be to produce a PSA of sorts that will publicize how young women of color truly feel about how they are being portrayed by media corporations.

Davis’ project sounds ambitious, but like Joyner show hosts pointed out the biggest question is one of pure practicality: can you truly change what people believe without altering what pictures are streaming through their television screens?

Davis resoundingly says yes.

“We want to change the mind of young women who absorb these images. The first thing we are doing is giving these women a voice.”

Ultimately, Davis’ concept is one of verbal and visual power that could eventually catch on amongst the thousands of women who choose to express their distaste for shows like “Basketball Wives” on Twitter. But it appears that the great premise that lies in the Bury The Ratchet campaign should be scaled. The chocolate city of the south is not the only region plagued by fist-yielding women in tight dresses. Reality shows have ratchified young women of color from the east to west coast, turning innocent girls into twerk team wannabes that constantly capture black hostility through social media. Davis’ project is one of promise that will hopefully spark conversation in communities of color throughout the nation. By creating dialogue, the “Bury the Ratchet” campaign will help more women reconsider the images they chose to support and the definitions of black women that they seek to change.

  • Chillyroad

    There isn’t a cemetery in the world big enough.

  • Beautiful Mic

    lol

  • anon

    Again, a light skinned, mixed race ancestored woman is chosen, given the platform, to invite dialogue about blackness.

    It’s always someone with a rather in-between appearance, blatantly mixed, chosen by main stream media to mediate such dialogues.

    Why?

  • Chillyroad

    Is it true she married a white woman?

  • Kwazigirl

    Anon,

    Michaela Angela Davis is a highly respected and brilliant activist and voice for the African American community and womens rights. To believe that the work she has done and is doing for various black/womens causes she be invalidated due to her complexion is ignorance at his best. Hmmmm but I guess its her skin tone thats stopping you from going out there and organizing movements to counter negative images of black women out there huh? We gotta do better ladies…

  • LolaWrites

    I personally love the diversity in the “black culture.” I love my ghetto girls and my ratchet queens. I also love my intelligent sisters and entrepreneurs. I just love black women period and I think we should celebrate all of us and not always trying to other one another.

  • GTFO

    N-O, I refuse to celebrate the “ghetto” or to use the new cool word “ratchet” amongst us. No one else is called to embrace trash.

  • Shell

    i totally agree with you.

  • http://deemyselfandi.wordpress.com DeeMyselfAndI

    While I understand the need/want for a “real Black” woman to spearhead this conversation/movement, I respectfully disagree. Isn’t the point that at least someone is speaking up and trying to change the perception of black women in the media? If you don’t like something and want it to change, do it yourself. She didn’t wait until she found a black woman of the appropriate shade to be the face of the campaign. She did it herself.

  • http://www.oneorganizedbusiness.com A.W.

    I understand what you’re saying…but I’m just happy someone is doing it. It says she’s spearheading this campaign. If a darker skinned woman had stepped up to the plate, I’d be just as happy. It needs to be done.

  • imarie

    I wonder if she was “chosen” or if she stepped up and just did it. I wonder…….

  • imarie

    and I believe she is not mixed race. She stated on CNN last night that both of her parents are African American.

  • http://gravatar.com/s2aebelt AJ

    I think this is a nice idea. No seriously. My only issue is that the audience that would attend a symposium at Spelman are clearly NOT the problem.

  • http://www.oneorganizedbusiness.com A.W.

    Exactly…

  • imarie

    Church!!!!

  • hmmmmm

    That’s a great point which leads me to ask, anyone else feel this ghetto subculture is thisclose to becoming the main culture in the BC? I cringe at the thought but when I look around SMH.

  • Smilez_920

    This is not the same thing. First of all light skin is black, so cut the ” she’s not dark enough stuff”. This is a grass roots movement she created because she is sick of seeing black women of all shades , light as Tami from basketball wives to as dark as NeNe from RHOA, being represented in a negative monolithic light. This is not some big media force choosing a token blk reporter to spear head this campaign. She took the initiative because like most blk ppl I’m sure her family has a variety of women with different skin tones, she is tired of seeing blk women as a whole no matter how dark or light , being shown in a ” ratchet” way.

  • http://theinfamousl.wordpress.com theinfamousl

    I appreciate that this is pro-leadership. Leaderships is what we need more than anything right now with so many lost Black women and misinformed people who are exposed to these type of stereotypes.

  • http://valsotherblog.wordpress.com Val

    Okay, this is great but. why is she dragging Spelman into this? She needs to go out into the communi8ties where these people live. Spelman women have nothing to do with all that nonsense.

  • Mo

    I see your “ratchet” and raise you a “Honey Boo Boo”. I follow with a side of Jersey Shore and a little bit of Duck Dynasty to finish.

    Other cultures embrace the trash, the difference is the trash is not assumed to represent the lot of them as is frequently the case with our community.
    I am all for burying the “ratchet” if they mean negative behaviors that are detrimental to our community, but I think we should be careful about judging/shamimg people because they may speak, dress, style their hair or name their children in ways we who are “non-rachet” do not approve of if they are otherwise good people. We can celebrate of differences.

  • Smilez_920

    I’m sure there are women at at spell man who watch these reality tv shows . Im sure there are students at spelman who plan on working in the tv and media industry who will be faced with these stereotypes on a daily bases .

    At one point in time HBCU’S were meant to influence the communities that were surrounded them. Maybe Ms. Davis feels that if her message can hold weight on campus, the younger generation will spread it through out the community with her .

  • mm

    Exactly, both of her parents are African American. Black comes in many colors and backgrounds. That’s what being African American means. Get to shaking that family tree one or two Caucasians are gonna fall out on most of us. I do believe this is why back in the day there was the “one drop” rule. Nevertheless, she is a brilliant woman and what she does is amazing and none of the above really matters.

  • Smilez_920

    Please excuse the typos … Auto correct + touch screen not a good look at times

  • MommieDearest

    *rolls eyes*

    We live in Amerikkka. You will be hard-pressed to find an ‘unadulterated” black person born in this country who is decendant from (African) American slaves.

    Michaela is black. She is not ambiguous. She’s black. Period. S

  • leelah

    I think your question is interesting. I don’t think she was picked by the media to represent blackness. But soledad was most definitely chosen by corporate media because she appeals to both blacks and whites. And the black power speech isn’t threatening when it comes from a mixed, barely black pretty woman. I don’t think we should automatically shun this thought process especially considering that our civil rights leaders purposely chose rosa parks as their martyr when a darker teenage girl had already blazed that freedom trail.

  • leelah

    most people in the ghetto are to busy trying to make it. Its not ghetto subculture. Its step n fetch it culture. Its a whole bunch of wealthy black folks who don’t even live in the ghetto acting ‘black’ for the white media because they know whats expected of them.–rick ross, tami and eve and shaunie, even jay-z wouldn’t have an audience if they started talking about their everyday life in the burbs. we need to stop villifying the ghetto and celebrate the positive culture that is there instead of always teaching our children to look up and out of their community for salvation.

  • http://differentnorm.wordpress.com differentnorm

    I absolutely love what MAD stands for, and the work that she’s done in the past. I’m also not the biggest reality TV show fan, and while I don’t necessarily agree with some of the images that are displayed, I do think that creative freedom should allow for those images……so long as they aren’t the only images. It would seem that a bigger issue continues to be that Black Americans are seen as a monolith, and the image of one is applied to all rather than the acknowledgement that diversity exists within the race. Case in point: movies like ‘The Hangover’ don’t automatically lead audiences to believe that all White males’ lives are consumed by drinking…..but the same discernment isn’t applied to the perception of Black women after viewing an epi of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta’? This is possibly because White males are given more latitude in the roles that they are offered & that are made available to them compared to Black women. It’s difficult for me to find television shows that I find relatable, consequently Netflix & Youtube have become my mediums of choice where I can either indulge in the sci-fi shows & dramas that interest me (& that also often lack diversity in their casts) or the classic Black shows of the 90′s….which have more depth than any recent Black show that I’ve come across as of late. But back to the story at hand: I do support this effort and hope that it does lead to the questioning of the pervasiveness of certain images of Black women in the media, and hopefully opens the door (or at least leads to a dialogue) for more diverse representations of Blackness. But there are so many more layers to this issue……

  • Yea…

    Lol @ using NeNe as your “dark” example. If you think the media hasn’t whitewashed what we see as “black” today, then you are out of your mind. All of that aside, I think any black woman of any pigment can spearhead this movement. Im glad that she’s decided to speak up!

  • LolaWrites

    That’s what I was trying to say… sort of.

  • tired of this convo

    I suppose the same chickenheads hating on her would be hating on angela and pearl and malcolm and cornel and henry and the list goes on and on

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    Val, you’d be surprised at how many ‘ratchet’ people there are in the Cream of The Crop colleges and neighbourhoods. Just get them into a spot where they feel comfortable, and you’d clutch your pearls at the transformation.

  • Smilez_920

    I picked NeNe since the last article Clutch published commenters seem to be turned off by her behavior on RHOA, plus I’m sure most ppl on here have heard her name atleast once.

  • Chillyroad

    Ok that was a serious question. Is she married to a white woman? If so that would be very ironic. Not that it matters.

  • dirtychai

    As leelah stated, this is not necessarily “ghetto” culture. I’m tired of that noun being used as a adjective that misrepresents reality. These Louis Vuttion Queens are far removed form that life. The only thing that everyday women in poverty relate to is their seemingly lack of education and desperation to have a voice, no matter how they get it.
    Yes, there needs to be a strong leadership that is just as vocal about showing Black women and girls that there are more women who have made it using their smarts and earning respect than those cutting the fool on TV.

  • Gigi Young

    This needs to be streamed on YouTube. This won’t go beyond the choir (aka people who agree with MAD) unless there is access to the conversation by all people.

  • SS25

    There are plenty, they’re just not as well-known as Angela Davis.

  • SS25

    I got your point. People are so afraid of what “those people” make “us” look like. In reality ratchet or not the view us all the same. Instead of distancing ourselves lets help each other evolve and do better. Why must we always try to seek white approval.

  • SS25

    *they

  • paul

    Why does this scam remind me of the old English saying – ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ – meaning you can make mucho dinero by cleaning up dirt.

    LOL!

    sigh

    I really wish we weren’t such a naive people.

  • Smilez_920

    I agree to a certain extent. I think if we had more variety of black culture in media , the ” war on ratchet” wouldn’t really be in motion. I also agree that we should use this as a way to shame ppl.

    But ghetto is’nt really used as a word to celebrate a differnt culture . It’s pretty much used to describe igronance. I mean lets be honest a lot of ghetto culture is based in igronance. Ex: speech. Now I have no problem with ppl using a slang word , I even use slang sometimes. And even my grammer is a little off at times . But, acting as if you have no concept of the English language is ridiculous. That’s the kind of thing that leads blk children to think that talking proper = talking white .

    ( now hair, clothing or how you name your child is a differnt story , I don’t think ppl should be shamed for that , that’s something I could look at as cultural differences ).

  • a.c.

    how do you know for sure that the audience that attends a symposium at Spelman is not part of the problem? Spelman so many free speaking engagements, open to the public, and Atlanta residents do not hesitate to walk through those gates, take a seat, and listen to the great speakers that come to the campus. Spelman is the perfect place for something like this.

  • Jeni

    Let’s keep it real. She will be preaching to the choir. The only way to combat “ratchet” imagery is to create positive, intelligent content featuring a range of Black women’s experiences that also manages to be witty and entertaining.

    Only idiots take reality TV seriously. If it isn’t scripted line by line, it’s heavily outlined, and all participants (sometimes actors themselves)know their “storyline” for the season. Should her goal be to eliminate this kind of entertainment? No, it’s a free country, and everyone has the right to tune in or avoid trash TV. If you want change, partner with innovative content creators who can shine a spotlight on smart, powerful, upwardly-mobile Black women in a buzzworthy and substantive way.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    LOL THIS! As someone mention above the “hood” gets a bad wrap, not everybody in the hood are “ratchet”, jumping tables, starting fights, throwing drinks, cussing each other out, etc. Status (no matter where you are located on the socio-econmic pole) don’t buy class! You can find people that as you say make you “clutch your pearls” in all walks of life not just slumming in the hood. That is a common misconception, people who seems to have “made it” just gets a pass or hides it better so don’t believe the hype!

  • Courtney**

    I really can’t understand how anything you wrote goes against what is stated in the article. I don’t see where it’s stated that her goal is to eliminate trash TV – in fact, I specifically noticed a lack of an attempt to censor and an emphasis on promoting more positive images of black women to drown out the negative images – not replace.

    “The goal [of the movement] is to get the spotlight off the ratchetness and on the successful women in Atlanta.”

    How is that any different from “partner(ing) with innovative content creators who can shine a spotlight on smart, powerful, upwardly-mobile Black women in a buzzworthy and substantive way”?

    I think there are a couple of fatal flaws in the argument that “only idiots take reality TV seriously” – namely, the fact that black women are still a MINORITY and there are a lot of people in the MAJORITY who get their information about minorities from TV. This is a fact. Another flaw? You presume that America isn’t a treasure trove of idiots. Allow me to remind you – http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID=509 – just how many MILLIONS of people think Barack Obama is a secret Muslim. A third flaw – you aren’t recognizing how the trash TV stereotypes work with NON-trash TV stereotypes to present a pretty unified deranged idea of the average black woman. Kind of hard to argue to not take trash TV seriously if it’s a prominent symptom of a widespread disease. I mean really… remember Pepsi Max’s angry black woman commercial? Or hell, Popeye’s “Annie the Chicken Queen”? I think it’s dangerous to underestimate or outright ignore the power of this kind of media.

  • Shirl

    Good point!!

  • WhatIThink

    Bottom line, the entertainment industry in America is and has always been an institution of propaganda for white society. And since day one black folks have been the prime target of that propaganda. Therefore 200 years after the fact, it is time to question why we STILL are at the whim and mercy of this same industry waiting for it to change when it is obviously not in its history or structure to change. To me that is the mindset we should be investigating. Why are we looking for this tool of propaganda to tell us about ourselves honestly and not tell lies, distortions and stereotypes. What is it about us that we cannot seem to tell our own stories? This goes for all aspects of black life.

  • Ms. Write

    This reminds me of when the NAACP “buried” the N word. Good luck…

  • Pingback: Good Step: Michaela Angela Davis Wants Atlanta Women to “Bury the Ratchet” | Beyond Black & White

  • kara

    As a dark skinned woman, I am just glad that she cares enough about the images of black women. Those who have problems with her…just have problems…

  • Pingback: Image activist Michaela Angela Davis launches campaign to ‘Bury the Ratchet’ of reality TV | theGrio

  • simplyme

    this. <3

  • WB2

    No. Her man a BLACK man is my real estate agent…and a very popular DJ.

  • WB2

    Um…NO…Her mother is a white woman. She considers herself Black but her mother is White. Truth. End of story. Period.

  • rhea

    I teach, and I can tell you that lots of people take reality television seriously. Unfortunately, those people are young girls who look up to these women and copy what they do. They defend what they see these women do, and they act it out in the hallways and on instagram and twitter. I used to think like you before I had the opportunity to listen to these young people.

  • Pingback: Why Bury The Ratchet? | Progressive Pupil

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