Extra: Wealthy Black Kids Can Be Douchebags Too
Good grief, BET.
First, the Black Entertainment Television network embarrasses black college students across the country with College Hill, a show that proves a house full of black college co-eds can be as useless as a house full of white ones. Now the MTV-show-dipped-in-chocolate experiment kicks into overdrive with last night's premiere of Baldwin Hills, a new single-camera docudrama that proves that when it comes to effortlessly reinforcing stereotypes, BET still reigns supreme.
Promoted as an all-black version of MTV’s Laguna Beach, this show takes place in the “Black Beverly Hills,” the hillside Baldwin Hills community of South LA. Only instead of vapid, superficial WASPs, we're treated to 11 vapid, superficial black kids, and the one poor girl who lives outside the neighborhood. But any positioning of 18-year-old Staci as a heroine is undone when she casually dismisses all of the hillside residents as simply "bougie," that ridiculous catchall frequently used to describe any black person who just happens to have money.
Actually, it's hard to like any of the characters on this show. Rather than destroying racial stereotypes by showing a cross-section of black wealth, these kids drill those stereotypes into our heads so we don't forget them. A quick scan of the cast bios reveals that half of the 11 hillside denizens have some involvement in basketball. That’s either the offspring of a former NBA player, a student basketball player hankering for a b-ball scholarship, or some combination of the two. You mean the show's producers scoured all the black kids on the hill, and couldn’t find one non-athletic, black nerd counting down the days to his road trip to ComicCon? Or a single granola-eating, dreadlocked black hippie who whiles away the hours doing poetry readings in Leimert Park? Or one black kid whose musical preferences skew more towards rock than hip-hop? According to Baldwin Hills, even when black kids are well off, dribbling a basketball is still their key to upward mobility. Wha?
Photo by Arnold Turner