Like many of you, I read Tamar Braxton’s cryptic Instagram caption with shock, awe, and immediate curiosity of who inspired it.
“I love u all but I have been stabbed in the back by someone I stupidly trusted” (Tamar Braxton via Instagram)
Shortly after news broke that Tamar wouldn’t be returning to The Real for Season 3, rumors began to fly about who Tamar’s Brutus could be. Observers quickly noted that she’d unfollowed all her co-hosts with the exception of Tamera Mowry-Housley, further igniting speculation to the real deal behind her Real departure. It’s been said that she didn’t test well with the audience or with advertisers. Now, I’m not here to add to speculation but I find that hard to believe since she’s been doing well on two reality shows for a number of seasons prior to joining The Real.
Speculative theories aside, what grieves me most about this situation is the impact it has on the perception and status of sisterhood; particularly among women of color.
Like any other cultural happening, the chatter amongst the peanut gallery began almost immediately. Despite Tamar plainly stating that she’d been betrayed by someone she trusted, Tamar was immediately blamed for her own departure by many. “She’s too ghetto, she’s too ratchet, she’s too much!” Essentially, there are several women saying that Tamar’s authentic self, which has always included being over the top, is inappropriate on a talk show that posits itself as the real and authentic voice of women of a certain demographic.
I won’t even get into how criticisms of Tamar’s personality are deeply rooted in anti-blackness and an overwhelming desire to appeal to the White Gaze (define: white gaze). I’m not even here to discuss Tamar’s excessive appropriation of the Black Gay Lexicon (because, let’s be honest: many Black women are guilt of appropriating the language of Black gay men under the guise of it somehow belonging to us since the femininity of Black gay men is derived from Black women). What is most problematic for me is that somehow, Tamar wasn’t deemed respectable enough to gain sympathetic embrace in sisterhood. Her Instagram post and ensuing commentary reeked of someone experiencing the trauma of betrayal, and yet somehow it was decided that she was “too ghetto” and “too much” to deserve to be covered by the sympathy of sisterhood.
We have a problem showing sisterly love and concern for women we don’t like and/or respect. We play respectability politics even when it comes to allowing or facilitating one among us. That’s not the behavior of grown women. Grown women give room to the diversity of experience in womanhood. Grown women understand that everyone is at a different apex in their journey. Hell, grown women even know that your circle is balanced by a Tamar-type. Grown women don’t just call out the problem with another woman in her growth process, she will lead with solutions for change. If Tamar is extra, over the top, and lacking balance in her personality, the onus is on mature, grown women to help her get there.
“But Danyelle, I don’t know Tamar so WTF are you talking about?”
Yeah, you [probably] don’t know Tamar Braxton-Herbert personally, but you know a Tamar in your life. Someone who behaves just like she does and to whom you respond in the same way that you are responding to Tamar.
“But know that everyone who smiles in your face is NOT your friend and is NOT cheering for you and will LIE and try and tear u down to TRY and dim your light.” (Tamar Braxton via Instagram)
Instead of helping her become a better woman by being an example of grown a** womanhood, you just discuss her problems within the confines of your sister circle of other “respectable” women. Regardless of where Tamar Braxton or the many women like her are in their journey, they still deserve the grace and covering of sisterhood. They deserve to have somewhere to turn inward for healing and growth. We live in a world that tears us down as women in general. That destruction is exacerbated under the double jeopardy of classism and racism for women of color. Grown womanhood isn’t about respectability politics. It’s not even about having to like every woman simply because she is a woman. What Grown Womanhood is about is the ability to express yourself in fullness and in truth while being a source of support for a woman that’s learning to come into her own.
UPDATE 6/2/16: Tamar Braxton announced that she will be launching her own talk show with Steve Harvey’s production company, 112th Street productions.
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