Have We Gone Too Far With Online Petitions Against TV Shows?There’s no denying the power of an online petition. In 2012, over 750,000 people started petitions on Change.org, over 25 million people signed their names and there were thousands of success stories across the globe. If you have a cause or a complaint anyone with Internet access can start an online protest, and after enough electronic signatures, you may even get a media response or actually see, well, change.

One of the biggest success stories last year was the petition that lead to the arrest of George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But currently, there seems to be a new trend in activism that centers around scripted and reality television shows. There’s been a shift from online petitions that focus on equality and global change to “save my favorite TV show” or “take that show off the air.”

Now, the fight against the airing of Oxygen’s forthcoming show All My Babies’ Mamas was understandable. From the 13-minute trailer, it was apparent that the show would be dysfunctional, stereotypical and an exploit of the children and women involved. Over 37,000 signatures eventually lead to the show’s cancellation.

However, while there’s a national debate about gun control and an uproar about police brutality in our country, should we really focus our sense of activism on protesting shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians, Love and Hip Hop and/or the Basketball Wives franchise? Are we turning a blind eye from the most important issues in our country to focus on something as minuscule as a TV show?

Most recently, a group of Howard University students started a petition to end Bravo’s upcoming series Married to Medicine. They claim the reality series will leave the stain of unprofessionalism and cattiness on the image of Black female doctors for years to come. And while they may have a valid opinion, the show has yet to even air. Why are we jumping on trailers? At least give the show and it’s producers a chance to air their work and tell their stories. From there, if you don’t like the show then stop tuning in — it’s that simple.

The African-American community has had a culture of activism since the days before the civil rights movement. While there’s nothing wrong with protesting for entertainment with more value, we should also use our energy to combat causes that will bring justice, equality, employment and educational opportunities to everyone.

Moving forward, let’s stand up for all of the issues that our important in our community. Our activism and right to protest should go beyond the 30 minute-to-hour-long fictitious shows that pop up on our television or computer screens.

  • Anon

    WHAT? The gay community has an entire ORGANIZATION to monitor how they are portrayed. They have things like, I dunno LEGAL TEAMS to combat their image. Black women are thrown under the bus on a daily basis in modern media and entertainment and a few online petitions is going too far?

    THIS ATTITUDE RIGHT HERE is how things got so bad in the first place.

  • MommieDearest


    You know, the two are not mutually exculsive. It IS possible for people to protest degrading TV shows (and music and other forms of media) and to fight for real life change in their community simultaneously. I’ve seen it for myself. Really, I have…

  • Anon

    Media is not miniscule. One of the first tools or war or combat is to… control.the.message.

  • CCN

    I think we haven’t gone too far. I think it’s great that the consumers of media finally have this much influence in what media companies decide to actually air on t.v. It’s beautiful thing!

    I saw the preview of the Medical Wives show, and it should not be on air, I don’t care what kind of degrees, clout or money they have.

    Hoodrats is everywhere!

  • CCN

    Exactly, and the Jews do as well.

  • http://www.urbanexpressive.com J. Nicole

    “Moving forward, let’s stand up for all of the issues that our important in our community. Our activism and right to protest should go beyond the 30 minute-to-hour-long fictitious shows that pop up on our television or computer screens.”

    Thats kind of making the assumption that after some of these people start a petition, they continue to sit idly by towards everything else. We don’t know what other forms of activism they are then a part of after creating/signing.

    Sometimes I think “Eh, just don’t watch the show”, but this is a technology based generation we are living in. Plus, regarding the images on tv, the execs need to see numbers & charts. This younger generation doesn’t rely on the boycotts of the Civil Rights era or the “No Justice, No Peace”/Million Man Marches of 15-20 years ago (damn I feel old). These petitions give a sense of organization which I’ve then seen many kids become more active in person opposed to a click away

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Clearly someone has been reading my comments ;)

    I don’t have a problem with people making online petitions about tv shows, and I don’t have a problem with people deciding to sign them.

    But, if you think that solely by signing these petitions you are making a real difference in the lives of black people that are struggling–you are mistaken.

  • CCN

    “I’ve then seen many kids become more active in person opposed to a click away”

    This morning, I listened to the cousin of Emmett Till being interviewed for one of Boyce Watkin’s (It’s Your World) shows, and he stated that during the civil rights era, it was mostly youth, ages ~12-25, don’t most of the protesting and contributing to some major, landmark, events. The same thing happened in South Africa during Apartheid, it was the youth on the front-lines sacrificing their lives for justice.

    I was looking through the youth listed on TheRoot.com’s list of extraordinary people (one of their lists) and it’s just amazing what can be done when youth are guided, raised, and are able to develop, properly.

  • Rue.

    Honey, why didja steal my words? Amen, Amen and Amen!!!

  • SB

    “Why are we jumping on trailers? At least give the show and it’s producers a chance to air their work and tell their stories.”

    Now I’m definitely not in favor of that Shawty Lo show, but why was it ok to jump all over that trailer and not the trailer for Married to Medicine? You lost me there..

  • SB


  • Anon

    We made a real difference in Shawty Lo getting a paycheck by trotting out his dysfunctional family on the airwaves.

    We made a real difference in Trayvon Martin having a chance at a trial for his death.

    The new sucessionists’ numbers calling for Texas to seceed from the Union got the White House to raise the limit on the number of signatures needed for a response.

    Online petitions got a Firefly MOVIE made. And the show Jericho brought back on the air.

    You clearly have a problem with people making petitions to shut down entertainment that you have stated in your comments that you enjoy. If you thought this might have no impact, you wouldn’t have bothered to care… because it would have no impact. Others are concerned (actually, shocked) at how LOW the image of black women has been allowed to drop and the numbers of black women that are A-Okay with that. So if the push-back has to start with online petitions, so BE IT.

    But no worries, VH1 will be cooking up some new trashy T.V. degrading black women by the time summer comes. Wives of Prison Guards can’t be too far off in the future.

  • Nikster

    Just to play devil’s advocate I know that many people were offended by Shawty Lo’s show but did anyone think about the money he lost because the show isn’t airing. He has hella kids…they need to eat. It was a way to make some money…no he may not. I personally didn’t feel directly effected by the Shawty Lo show so I didn’t care if it aired or not. The stereotypes about “babby mamas and baby daddies” are going to remain regardless of the show so for me it was whatever.

    We hear a lot of uproar over shows but less about other things that need to be addressed in the community.

  • http://Clutch SL

    What kind of argument is that – exactly how would airing that show made a difference in the lives of those struggling – other than perhaps his “crew”?

  • Anon

    Actually, stereotypes change over time. They’re not set in stone.

    Last time I checked, there were other sources of employment besides dragging your underage children on television to profit off of irresponsibility. If Shawty Lo was so concerned about his children being able to eat, he would have THREE TOPS extra mouths to feed, not 11.

    Everyone keeps saying “adress other things in the community”. Well, what? What can be “addressed” that hasn’t ALREADY been addressed? Studied? Had money thrown at it? The lack of INTACT black families is producing a lot of black “problems” and until people want to address those PERSONAL choices, ain’t much else to do. It starts at HOME.

    Now since parents aren’t parenting, and too many black children watch a disproportionate amount of television, then getting these shows off of the air, or BLOCKED PERIOD is providing a healthier enviornment for black children everywhere. So protesting against these shows (really go for the advertisers though!) is directly limiting some of the negative influences and poor possible role models.

    If people want to see ratchet, then WSHH is chock-full to the gills of videophone fights, bathroom confessionals, and parties that got out of control.

  • Nikster

    @anon The issues int he Black community do not solely stem from the break down of the Black family. The issue with single motherhood is often due to an issue socioeconomic status. Poor women have children as single parents means a lack resources on many levels. Not simply the fact that she is single. It starts at home but lets be real about some of the conditions people are facing and the lack of information/knowledge they may not have.

    Why not address more issues related to poverty? More low cost daycare some mothers can work decent jobs, more head-start programs in poor communities, more resources for families in these conditions in which it is disproportionately Blacks.

    It probably wasn’t a great idea for Shawty Lo to have some of these kids if he couldn’t afford them but that same assertion should also be made to the women that got pregnant with his kids. Regardless, they have them. They trying to make a way…so they wanted to do this show. Are their other ways to make money sure…but this was an option and people were so worried about how they would look and not his kids. Then when he doesn’t pay child support or something people will be like he is a dead beat dad.

    Stereotypes evolve but I think the idea that somehow the absence/presence of the show is going make some significant difference when the market is saturated with reality programs that are disparaging of all kinds of people seems is a bit over the top.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Bingo! I think some people want to complain just to complain.

  • Anon


    “They trying to make a way…so they wanted to do this show. Are their other ways to make money sure…” And I promise you they are finding out what those other ways to make money are as we speak. It just won’t be from that show.

    “more head-start programs in poor communities,”— Gains in headstart are often lost by grade three because parents don’t continue to read to their children once enrolled in school or have them engaged in the home in educational activities. It is a great service that provides introductory learning skills and free baby-sitting. I highly doubt it is capable of more than that.

    “that same assertion should also be made to the women that got pregnant with his kids.”— From what I saw, everyone after babymama No.3 got DRAGGGGED. Of course, he DID pick all of them from troubled homes right out of (or in) high school so there you go.

    “people were so worried about how they would look and not his kids.” — People WERE worried about those kids, and how EMBARRASSED they would be after being shown in their parents’ trifling mess on national t.v.

    “The issues int he Black community do not solely stem from the break down of the Black family.”— This right here, is why you see what remains of the black middle class throwing up the dueces and walking off. If the basic tenents of family is being shrugged off, then at least let what’s on T.V. not just consist of crazy black women throwing bottles and pulling weaves.

  • Mademoiselle

    All I got from this article is “I don’t feel like doing this, so let’s just give up on our media image and see how bad it hurts later, then maybe we can revisit doing something about it.” It just seems like the black community chooses to play from behind sometimes. Even if there are other larger things to work on, that doesn’t mean we should let the little things pile up. That’s how the larger things became large.

  • http://Clutch SL

    @Nikster -so your solution is to throw more government programs at it – since when did that help. Honestly, that is what contributed to the breakdown to begin with.

    I’m so tired of the welfare mentality – expecting the government to fill in the gap of bad choices.

    Thank God Shawty-Lo-Down and his BMs did not profit off of perpetuating their ignorance.

  • Pseudonym

    I think we’re overdoing on-line petitions, period. There seems to be one for every.single.thing and I signed one important one and now Change.org keeps sending me spam asking me to sign a different petition every other day.

    Perhaps, I should start and on-line petition of on-line petitions. [*wink*]

    BUT, they seem to be working and the people are able to make changes and be heard through these petitions of non-violent protest, so I also say “More power to them.”

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel

    Exactly, these petitions do not address the fact that these people exist all. There saying is do not shine a light around in my darkness.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel

    Online petitions are not bad but there not good either. To me when they start doing things like focusing on reality TV they become a band aid and fail to aaddress where the wound came from in the first place.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    People are always telling Black people what we should and shouldn’t be focusing on. It’s always, you have more important problems than that, blah, blah, blah. Apparently Black people are incapable of multitasking like everyone else, according to some.

    There are 50 million of us, so we can certainly find a way to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. I wish people, like the author of this post, would stop condescending to us like we are children.

  • Mo

    So, basically it was ok to protest Baby Mamas and not let it air but there’s an issue with protesting Married to Medicine????

  • http://back-to-nothing.com Dante

    It’s amazing how cut off from reality we are. We put all this effort into trying to censor rappers and cancel shows; meanwhile, the real issues (drugs, crime, unemployment, etc.) are somehow off limits. If you don’t like Chief Keef, don’t listen to him. If you don’t want to watch Kim and whatever the rest of their names are, don’t watch the show. After you turn off that television or radio, maybe you can refocus your attention on the things that matter.

  • StrangerDanger

    Maybe the author didn’t read the Howard doctors’ full petition. Black women are underrepresented in medicine and unfortunately, when a group is underrepresented the actions of a few are often attributed to the actions and attitudes of a larger whole.

    If I were a black female physician who invested vast amounts of time and money to pursue my career, I would not sit idly by and allow a contrived reality show dampen my earning potential. They have student loans to pay and families to feed. It’s about their livelihoods.

    Simply “not tuning in” is the equivalent of putting on sound proof headphones when someone is slandering you from the top of a building with a loud speaker. Your self-esteem may be intact, but everyone is still looking at you funny.

    Signing a petition takes 5 minutes tops, leaving 23hrs and 55 minutes to work on all of the world’s other social ills.

  • Nikster

    @SL so you are against the welfare state but also against a dude make his money in a capitalist market?

  • Anon

    What are you trying to do, give a lecture in Negrogology 101 – “How to ignore reality and get people to stop judging me for poor choices.”? What’s on the syllabus for next week, “The condom broke… 5 times with 5 different women. A life in the clinic.”? The only ones cut off from reality are the ones defending the madness. The real issues are constantly talked about. But if those are your issues, ya’ll should REALLY be paying attention to how much other people DO.NOT.CARE about your well-being when your main forms of entertainment are pimps, hoes, babymamas, and weave snatching Dr.s, and then have the gall to be mad that people (who you need assistance from) notice how you spend your free time.

  • http://Clutch SL

    @Nikster – I am against him seeking to profit by parading his degenerate lifestyle in the media as though it is representative of the black community. Let him go dig ditches or something more deserving of his kind. He can make a living doing that too.

  • Anon

    Eh, I’ll say it. WHO CARES THAT THEY EXIST? Real talk, in cold political, money, social, terms and standing, they don’t count in this society. They.don’t.count. In fact there is a whole prison industrial economy that is being built off of just tossing them off to the wayside. Currently it is becoming a privatized endeavor. What you want, people to shower these folks with praise for existing?

    Is it right? NO. But the push for the least of us to represent all of us is no accident. In a recession (depression in the BC), with the first black president and Asia and Latin America doing huge come ups in a time of American decline. You want to travel abroad with teh main image of Black Americans being hoodrats? Our grandparents generations wouldn’t have stood for this crap. I don’t care if Shorty Lo impregnates all of Atlanta, as long as he and his keep that confined to HIS neighborhood and off of the national/international stage. Five years ago, I would have cared about the kids. That was five years ago. Anyone who’s done community outreach in the past five years could tell you horror stories about the state of our schools, the elderly, stable housing, etc… and dayum near everyone would tell you how the media has been a horrible influence.

    But the simple fact that you and a few others keep whining about the “community” over a damaging television produciont is a DEAD giveaway that ya’ll haven’t been out there in the trenches helping to combat poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, sexual trafficking. ACTUALLY, I know for Godd-mn sure ya’ll haven’t done any real work in protecting young black girls in dangerous neighborhoods because you want these images of dysfunction and abuse to be aired for your personal entertainment. God bless the people who recieve your “assistance in the community” should you step away from the keyboard.

  • Anon

    @SL, I love you so hard right now. And whoever else the 42 people were on my first comment. Everyone isn’t lost and stubbornly confused. I might have to go back to radio silence, and leave this mess be. Obviously, some folks don’t want to see the truth/reality/common sense, etc… . If you gotta play “Devil’s Advocate” about this ish, the game is pretty much over.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel


    Dude if you don’t know something you should keep quite. I do more than my fair share in these communities, I have tutuored math for two years in the same Atlanta Price middle school school that made the news for the shooting. Where the kids come from rough neighborhoods and apter like Pittsburgh, Four Seasons, Lakewood, and Thomasville. Coached football, basketball, and track with kids who couldn’t afford sneakers, so I help foot the bill. Breaking up gang fights, chasing kids high off weed that they stole from whom ever is the in the home with them, keeping them from having sex in the school and getting pregnant arguing with parents who can barely read themselves on why there kid is failing. Stay late into night with a child whose parents never show up in time to pick up the kids. Fed hungry kids, clothed them, taught them about hygiene, settled feuds between two to three kids in the same school that share the same dad but not the dame mom. I sacrificed time, energy, and a life to make things better. That’s how I know your off dude because only people who wouldn’t even ride a bus through these neighborhoods were you can be attacked on the bus would, let alone spend time there would be worried about a freaking reality TV show. Get on with tour self.

  • lil ray


  • Nnaattaayy

    Wow, “Married to Medicine” is not some miniscule reality show. It is a negative portrayal of black, professional women that can have lasting effects on those of us who hope to become a doctor. Competition to gain entrance into medical schools is fierce, and many qualified applicants are denied. What will medical school admissions think when they watch this on the air? you think they will give us the benefit of the doubt (lol)? I think they will conclude that we will all just act like them.
    I’m a pre med student in college and the path to medicine is long, (8+ years) and expensive (massive student debt). But it’s definitely worth it. That show would ruin every black female physician’s hard work in just one ep. Please don’t minimize the media and their portrayal of black people. I implore everyone to help and sign the petition. We gave that show a chance when they released the trailer and it will be garbage just like it advertises.

  • http://twitter.com/Fuckthestruggle Jason E (@Fuckthestruggle)

    Thank you!!!! Same thing that I’ve been saying about all this other crap reality TV that folks seem to love and make black folks look like idiots.

  • Nakia

    Word! Propaganda and conditioning…

  • http://wisconsingazette.wordpress.com Wisconsin Gazette

    These petitions CAN be used for good! They CAN be the starting force that drives big changes!

    Read the Wisconsin Gazette’s article about the impact these online petitions can have on the world here:

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