Two weeks ago, a friend sent author and media commentator Sabrina Lamb a clip of Oxygen’s upcoming one-hour reality TV special ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ and she was reportedly shocked by what she saw.
Lamb, who works full-time with underserved youth in the New York City area, was furious and utterly disgusted. She was so shocked, in fact, that she decided to protest against the new reality show.
According it’s the press release, the show promises to highlight the life of rapper Shawty Lo, his 11 kids and their 10 mothers, and to chronicle what happens when “the man of the house has to split his affection multiple ways while trying to create order.”
Lamb says she was tired of seeing the Black family portrayed negatively on reality TV, and felt was the show was a blatant use of child-exploitation to market TV programming, so she immediately took action to speak out against it.
Lamb repeatedly wrote and called the Oxygen network seeking answers, and when she felt they had none, she subsequently launched a national petition asking others to join her in insisting that the president of Oxygen Media NOT air the show.
As word about her petition spread, and to date she has over 13,400 (and counting) signatures. News outlets picked up the story of the backlash and the trailer was removed from the web.
Essence Magazine even interviewed Lamb to find out just how far she plans to go to make change.
ESSENCE.COM: Were you surprised that your petition made national news?
LAMB: A little. I thought it was just going to be a few of my friends and I who were upset about it and that’s it. Now, I’m getting emails from people all around the world saying to me, “It’s about time someone said something!”
ESSENCE.COM: What do you hope will come from the success of the petition?
LAMB: If this show goes on the air, you’re going to have to come and get me from in front of the Oxygen studio. I invited everyone to come be out there on the lawn with me. This is not just a Black issue. White people are sick of it too. I got an email from a 68-year-old White woman saying, “ I am sick and tired of Black stereotypes.”
ESSENCE.COM: What would you say to the women who are watching reality shows that portray Black women in a negative light?
LAMB: We have to start to draw a line in the sand. We have to decide who we really are, and while we’re deciding that, can we at least understand that our first duty is to protect and nurture our children? We don’t lobby. We’ll call a talk show, but we won’t go after advertisers. This has to stop.
CLICK HERE to read Lamb’s full Essence Magazine interview.
While Lamb has been quite vocal about her disdain for the show, Jason Klarman, president of Oxygen Media, declined to speak publicly about the show on Monday through a spokeswoman, Julie Rothman.
According to NewsOne, Rothman said the footage that was briefly circulated was part of a “pitch reel” hacked from the website of the production company. Such clips are used to try and get television networks to BUY programs.
She said there has been no talent deals – meaning they’re not even sure Shawty Lo will be featured in the program. The program is “still very much in early development,” she said.
In a statement issued late last week, Rothman said the show “is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society.
It is a look at one unique family and their complicated, intertwined life. Oxygen Media’s diverse team of creative executives will continue developing the show with this point of view.”
The news release announcing “All My Babies’ Mamas” described it as a one-time special at one point and a series at another. Rothman said it was a mistake to call it a series.
Networks, however, frequently air specials and turn them into series if they do well in the ratings.