Search
Sponsors

Read the latest by Alretha Thomas on Amazon.com!

The artist behind the blacksnob logo!

We have a good place for buying fashion statement necklaces

Latest Fashion Sammy Dress for Less

Like Me, Really Like Me

General Snobbery
« Blasts From the Past: The Snob at Harvard in 2009 and "Views & Vibes" | Main | How Peoria, Ill. Got Caught In Matt Drudge's "Race War" »
Wednesday
Jun292011

Author Sophia A. Nelson Talks About "The Nene Culture" and Why Black Women Need to Be Redefined

Sophia A. Nelson (Photo by Danielle Belton)

Every other week it seems the media discovers some new pathology that is trying to destroy those unloved, unwanted, unattractive, successful but single, will die alone --  unsuccessful and poor -- with their 15 cats, horrible black women. But Sophia A. Nelson argues that you don't have to believe the hype and you don't have to let negative images, negative thoughts and a culture that values the self-sacrifice and "toughness" of black women over the personal wellness of a black woman, get you down.

Sophia A. Nelson and Danielle BeltonNelson is in Washington, D.C. today for a book signing. (Click here for more info.) But I met with her last week on Capitol Hill. We talked about her first book, "Black Woman Redefined" -- a well-researched piece of non-fiction, breaking down the myths from the truth, armed with statistics. Part self-help, part call-to-action, Nelson's book takes a look at some of the negative images and attitudes that are tied to African American women and how black women need to "redefine" themselves, learn to be more vulnerable and make their own emotional wellness a priority. 

When we chatted, we focused on some of the images of black women in current popular culture -- your Braxton Basketball Housewives of Celebrity Apprentice -- and Nelson made the case that people need to focus more attention on First Lady Michelle Obama, a little less on Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Nene Leakes.

While Nelson says she's not the fun police and gets that people enjoy taking a chuckle at Tamar Braxton's "dot coms," watching Leakes attacking Star Jones on Celebrity Apprentice only seemed to turn the loud, obnoxious, irrationally angry, big, bad black woman into a real life cartoon for others to mock, and ... in some cases, emulate and endorse.

Black Woman RedefinedThe totality of the book is deep. When various studies were put out about black women and marriage, Nelson went out and sought her own numbers to compare and contrast, as in -- Nelson does her homework. The scope of the book alone is quite massive (from slavery to now). You're not going to run out of material to debate, discuss, argue about or nod your head to. Yet, despite the wealth of information, it is easily readiable and relatable. It's definitely a great reasource with a wealth of information and statistics that will help folks make up their own minds about the state of African American women and I'll go more into my own opinion of the book after I finish it.

Check out the video below. (All video lovingly shot and edited by me with my horrid Sony Cybershot camera. I apologize for the Metro bus that pulls up and makes a lot of noise on the audio.) Also, if you're in Washington, D.C. today, you can meet Sophia (and buy her book). The D.C. Launch of "Black Woman Redefined" is today, Wednesday, June 29th at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at 555 12th Street NW. 

I will be there, being a lookie loo, which is, totally, like, 50 percent of my life. Lookie-looism. AKA journalism. AKA "Professional Loitering."

For more on Nelson and "Black Woman Redefined," check out the book trailer here and some testemonials here.

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (21)

I have heard an interview of her, and I can't wait to get her book.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKissOfDanger

Ya know, I tried to watch "The Braxtons" but I could not follow it because they were always changing lacefronts. I never knew who was who. One minute, you see Toni with her short signature cut then all of a sudden there is a "new" sister sitting at the table with suspicious-looking parts in her not from the scalp of a black woman hair...

Anyways, the "re-definition" of such a massive group of individuals is a tall order. Especially a group of black women. Its sad that young black women today seem to think that having a big booty is a crowning achievment and their only commodity. I saw a group of black girls taking a picture the other day and they could barely get their faces in the pic for trying to contort their bodies to poke their asses into the picture and trying to "make hips" where there clearly were none to be captured on film.

Its like a war out there between the big loud, eternally annoyed and angry "Nene" baby-mommas, the chicken-head, Nikki Minaj-worshipping "Barbies"(AKA Future Nene's") And the fake gold-digging looking for a "baller" to "sponsor me" and my lacefront/shoe/handbag/designer accessories(because I can't fit into nor afford the actual designer clothes) wannabe "Basketball Wives" (AKA Future Nene's too)

As always, education is the "Frodo" to the end of these Big-booty Orcs. We must do something to make young girls feel like they have some innate value beyond the exterior and try to garner some interest in something other then fashion, celebrity, and attention. We need to instill a strong work ethic and some sort of dignity that will not allow these girls to aspire to settle for defining themselves soley as "Basketball Wives" or real "Housewives" (and the terms "wives" or "wife" should not be taken literally, matter of fact they should be swapped out with "baby-mommas" and "jump-offs")

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

@Nova I am not sure why Black women are constantly attacked and singled out. I have seen a group of white girls poking out their padded boobs in pictures too, what do Black women’s behinds and weaves have anything to do with this article. All women need to get self esteem and education instead of looking at a man as meal ticket married or not, if you did not earn half you are not entitled to half. Everyone wears wigs. Whites and Blacks wear wigs, so I don't understand why Black women are always singled out. I have long hair, but I have gone from braids to wigs/weaves, to natural just to change it up. Not that this matters, but allot of men get bored seeing their wife / longtime girlfriend in the same look year after year. My husband of over 10 years made a comment that it is like "being with a different woman every few months.," great for role playing too.LOL. Maybe too much info but it may help someone to keep the spice in their relationship, because many divorces and infidelity are caused by boredom and wanting "strange." I think the baby picture is funny as hell, but I am sure it is just a joke picture and no one took their baby outside like that except for Halloween. Stop being so uptight "Bag Ladies," and hatin' on the happy hair wearers, get a different look/ hair sometimes and you might get happy too.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Oops that last post got combined with one that I submitted for another article. I meant to submit just:

@Nova I am not sure why Black women are constantly attacked and singled out. I have seen a group of white girls poking out their padded boobs in pictures too, what do Black women’s behinds and weaves have anything to do with this article? All women need to get self esteem and education instead of looking at a man as meal ticket married or not, if you did not earn half you are not entitled to half.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

whoa, snob. i didn't even know you had it like that!

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterswiv

I hate that reality tv has allowed for the already damaging stereotypes of the angry black woman to expand. I think all of all various identities have begun to emulate what is seen on reality tv but black women have specifically picked up the manner in which we debate. Structurally speaking, black women are often left to have to defend ourselves so the frustration in having your backs push against the wall is understandable. However, the nastiness and loudness is counterintuitive and damaging.

My friend blogged about black women needing to be defined as more than just strong. Are strong? Yes but we are not limited by our strength. We can also be vulnerable, spunky, shy, creative, etc.

And some of us are even sweet:

http://sisterescape.blogspot.com/2011/06/color-me-sweet.html

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLe Chele

can't wait to read!

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjenifer

Just watching the promos for 'Celebrity' Apprentice were painful. Why would a network take someone as ill-mannered as Nene and promote her? I worked with a girl who seemed to embrace every negative stereotype there was about black folks. She constantly talked on her cell phone when she was supposed to be working. She couldn't walk anywhere because of her hip pain but she could walk to a party. She couldn't send money home to her mother in law to buy diapers for her baby but she could hang out in a casino and buy herself new clothes. She couldn't even come to work on time and all she had to do was walk downstairs to the lobby. It was awful. When I see people like this girl and Nene it just makes me wanna scream.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Although this wasn't mentioned in the interview, it may be in Ms. Nelson’s book. The media will air whatever sells. However, white producers have taken their cues from black producers & rappers as to how they can portray Black women/people. And as Ms. Nelson pointed out, many young Blacks (who are also consumers) are enthusiastically embracing these images, watching, and supporting these programs, which always equals more of these types of programs.

The unfortunate irony is that with the power of the internet this tide could be turned by our own hand and design. We are the ones who are collectively driving this garbage, and there's really no excuse for us not taking better care of our own collective image. Thanks for your work Ms. Nelson!

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbluehand

A program that has a lot of Black brides, and I feel has postive, yet down to earth portrayals is 'My Fair Wedding' with David Tutera, on WE TV. It's the opposite of Bridezillas, yikes!

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbluehand

"Ya know, I tried to watch "The Braxtons" but I could not follow it because they were always changing lacefronts. I never knew who was who. One minute, you see Toni with her short signature cut then all of a sudden there is a "new" sister sitting at the table with suspicious-looking parts in her not from the scalp of a black woman hair..."

Too funny, and I was thinking the same thing, what the heck! The show is still good and entertaning and I will watch them over basketball wives and Alanta wannabe housewives any day.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterb

@ Mary

I don't know, Ask Danielle Belton or Sophia A. Nelson .Maybe because black women tend to go a tad bit overboard with the cosmetics and It ha become the main focus in the definition of what a black woman is in todays society. There is a problem. The amount of time, energy, money, and emphasis, spent on frivalous things by black women in this country is sickening. So is the teen pregnancy rate, HIV infection rate, achievement gap, earned income gap, unwed pregnancy rate, etc. We gotta do better. I don't care what or who's hair you choose to put on your head, we really must do better. Thers no use in crying about the fact that people recognize that there is an issue. Black women are allowing themselves to be represented by new age coons and hottentot venuses and far too many are choosing to embrace them instead of telling them hoes to go sit down.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

@ novanova "Big booty orcs" hhahahahaha, that was good. I love it when a nerd can work a tolkien reference into a conversation its even better if they are a black nerd speaking on a topic dealing specifically with other black folks. Just call me frodo of the nine fingers cause as a black nerd myself sometimes it can feel as if you are fighting an enemy who used to be on yourside/good but they have been corrupted by a powerful evil, that you too could have sucumed to but for the grace of gollum and his greed.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLovely

@nova
"Its sad that young black women today seem to think that having a big booty is a crowning achievement and their only commodity". Again I really do not understand why you are pointing out the bad behavior of a few Black women like it is the norm. Most sane White women do not internalize the behavior of Paris and other similar reality shows, even though they have stereotyped white women as dizzy loud sluts. Of course there is a history of racism and stereotyping of Black women. But honestly these reality shows are stereotyping all women, so I really don't see the point of screaming racism at every show, and think we should save that card for when it really needs to be played, because if you continually scream racism you will eventually be ignored even when it is really happening. I personally am tired of this "chicken little" complaining and blowing minor stuff out of proportion. I think that we should pick our battles and I don't think Nene and the Braxtons are it, they are entertainers just like the majority of the loud cat-fighting white housewives, Paris and the Kardasians. I find them all entertaining and funny as hell, in a Jerry Springer sort of way. "JERRY, JERRY, JERRY, JERRY...." LOL. You can't fight the power all day every day we need a little pure slapstick comic relief now and then. "Bag Ladies" are not fun.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

@Nova
"Maybe because black women tend to go a tad bit overboard with the cosmetics and It ha become the main focus in the definition of what a black woman is in todays society. " And White women don't go overboard with makeup???Are you Black?

@Lovely never really liked Lord of the Rings. I am more of a Harry Potter, Dune, Trekkie type.

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I am ecstatic that someone is talking about the advent of the reality show minstrels and the descent of the soft and gentle black woman who embodies faith, hope, love, peace, joy, dignity, class and smarts. Just reading some of the posts in blogs around the net is enough to show how far we have fallen from generation to generation with greased up scantilly clad "video models" humping anything that will stand still in videos, hip hop "stars" calling us b's and h's, bruthas knocking us up and knocking the door down to marry and cater to anything white, etc... In the past decade alone we have managed to pull further away from MLK's dream than we were at the time he belted it out across the National Mall. Just fresh from navigating the articles at Mediatkeout.com, it is quite evident that we have been reduced to T and A, and I am not talking thoughts and answers. We are worse off than the economy and steadily declining. I hope this author gets the attention of Mrs. Obama and others with the powers to reach our young women before its too late. I look forward to purchasing this book not only for myself but also for my nieces. Its time to rise the bar.

@Mary I love Potter,Dune,and Star Trek and if you can make an analogy between any of them and redefining Black women then your nerd hand is truly strong. If you can work in an Octavia Butler reference I would personally crown you uber nerd, since her work would be the penulimate analogy (a Black Woman who wrote in the SciFi/Fantasy genre about Black folks, in particular Black Women)

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLovely

@Lovely Yes she is my favorite especially Mind of My Mind and Parable of the Sower. I don't think I care to be crowned uber nerd though. LOL

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

To paraphase Melissa Lacewell-Perry, "Who made Sophia A. Nelson queen?"

"The bitch" is vilified in every aspect of American culture. To me there's a big difference between women who haven't really accomplished anything in addition to celebrity status such as Nene and Omarosa and the character described from Grey's Anatomy. And to be perfectly honest, in the workplace I would prefer to deal with a Miranda Priestley character (from the Devil Wears Prada) who while an unapologetic bitch is at the top of her game and damn good at her job. I don't care for women with carefully manicured facades who have learned to smile without ceases around their eyes, who tilt their heads to nod in polite agreement and as soon as you turn around, deftly insert a knife into your back. As a woman, I find that behavior inauthentic and unappealing.


I think the only thing we can do is turn off the TV and limit use of the internets and Facebook. Indeed, I think this will make it easier for all of us to deal with people as individuals.

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

@ Mary hahaha ok no uber nerd crown for you but I will say I like your taste in books :)

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLovely

The conversation about black women's image in the media is always problematic for me because much of the real issues are not addressed. The reality is for the most part black women don't own or control media and the media will NEVER change the images that are being put out about us unless there is a lot of pressure to do so, i.e. divesting, stop buying and supporting certain products, stop watching certain TV shows, etc... Secondly, much of the problem has to do with other people who believe this foolishness about us. It's the 21st century and people are still trying to filter all black women into the mammy, sapphire and jezebel stereotypes. Are you kidding me?!? If other people can't stop and think and interact with black women as individuals, then the problem lies with them. I'm not saying we don't have work to do, because we do, but it's not just about us.

If we really want to make some changes, start combining resources and taking over media outlets so that we can perpetuate our own images of the black woman. Unless the current system implodes, this is something that can only be changed by radical means and from the outside (black women) in (media).

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrenia
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.