Kathy Hughes asked Mo’Nique if she ever gets accused of playing to stereotypes of Black women – what in my day we called the “Sapphire” image. Mo’nique said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Are there Black doctors and lawyers, yes, and they’re beautiful, and the sister in the projects with a head scarf and flip flops and gold teeth is beautiful, too. Why can’t we have a whole range of characters?”
Mo’nique wants to “bring respect to women sometimes considered outsiders… continues Mo\’Nique, \”Unfortunately, we live in a place that\’s taken that right from people. \’You\’re too fat. You\’re too black. You\’re too short. You\’re too white.\’ And they take the right from people, and people don\’t realize they can say, \”Can\’t give you that one. I might have one leg and three eyes and two left toes, but I can\’t give you that one.\”
Mo’Nique represents for the archetypal community Black woman. For me, she’s kind of a Roseanne Barr counterpart in that she represents for the blue collar woman.
However, I’m not sure people outside the Black community, by and large, are familiar enough with community African Americans to laugh “with” the character rather than “at” her. For example, when Mo’Nique is upset with her daughter in the sitcom “the Parkers”, does her style conjure up, for outsiders, something akin to the Ricky Ricardo rants of the I Love Lucy Show? Our Latino colleague, Ilya, used to say that the laugh track on I love Lucy didn’t work in Cuba because Ricky getting upset with Lucy wasn’t as funny there as the ridiculous things Lucy did.
Latinas get stereotyped as Sabado Gigante types, and Asian women suffer from being “exotic”. Other women of color are hardly represented at all. Although white women are also stereotyped, and they have a narrower range of “types” to play in movies than white men do, they still have more roles to play than women of color have.
Black people have more familiarity with White people than vice versa. As my colleague Ken says, Black people have worked for white people for a long time, and worked for them up close in their homes, but white people don’t know Black people welI. When women of color see Roseanne, they know she is one style of white woman. When outsiders see Mo’Nique, is the same thing true?
Come on ladies (and gentlemen if you dare) let’s talk about this. The question is in the title.