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by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Some of you may have seen the new Oxygen show, “All My Babies’ Mamas,” featuring the rapper Shawty Lo. Shawty is being rewarded for spreading his seed to every corner of earth, creating 11 kids in 10 different households. I recently wrote that the show is an insult to black families everywhere, but it’s not because I have a problem with a man having lots of kids. I also don’t fault the brother for loving women, women are a good thing.
Where I do fault Shawty Lo and these women is for their decision to bring so many kids into the world without having the necessary emotional and financial resources to raise them in a healthy environment. While Shawty defends himself by saying “I take care of my kids,” we have to remember that the term “taking care” is relative: I personally find it hard to believe that a man can give the necessary time and resources to 11 kids in 10 households, even if he is a full-time parent (which Shawty Lo is not). The leaked clips of him having trouble remembering the names of all of his children tells us pretty much everything we need to know.
It looks like the powerful organization Color of Change is getting involved in the battle to keep the show off the air. The group is wisely targeting the financial fuel that was planned to keep the show afloat by going after Oxygen’s advertisers. This is a smart move, since Oxygen might have initially felt that the negative publicity would be good for viewership. As a Finance professor myself, I can say that the only way to destroy a capitalist pig is to gut the piggy right in its bank account.
“Leaked online footage from the pilot showing Shawty Lo struggling to name his children — and one mother rebranding each woman with nicknames like “Fighter Baby Mama,” “Shady Baby Mama,” “Baby Mama from Hell” and “Wanna-Be-Bougie Baby Mama” — drew immediate criticism from Black people across the country.2 Despite the backlash, network executives remain intent on moving forward with the reality project.”
There is no room for us to celebrate the dissolution of the black family in America. The mass incarceration epidemic, conjoined with negative hip-hop financed by big, white corporations, has not only destroyed the core of who we are, it’s also led us to sing, dance and drink to the tune of our own self-destruction. As a result, an entire generation of children are being born into a world where dysfunction is the norm, and discipline is a thing of the past. This lack of discipline not only leads to even more of our children being transformed into commodities for the prison industrial complex, it also makes us willing partners in our own racial oppression. White folks don’t have to do the hard work anymore, since we’re happy to do it ourselves.
I am happy to see that Color of Change is fighting back. Someone needs to know that while none of us condemns the children being born into this odd situation, we don’t want our kids growing up looking forward to becoming Baby Mama number 11. Oxygen should be ashamed and I hope Oprah Winfrey had nothing to do with this.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Commercialized Hip-Hop: The Gospel of Self Destruction.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.