Profile: Changing the Stereotypes of Black Women | Not in Our Town

Profile: Changing the Stereotypes of Black Women

Who's That Lady

What is the societal stereotype of a beautiful woman? How many women really fit that image? Stereotypes are a normal way humans organize the world in our minds, so what harm can a simple stereotype about beauty do to the vast majority of people who do not fit that image?

And what about people who get stereotyped as "not smart" or "fat?” What about a whole ethnic group that gets stereotyped?

The website Who's That Lady Entertainment aims to "document achievements of women that don't normally get a chance to shine on a regular basis." Read this interview with Who's That Lady Entertainment Creative Director Belinda Trotter-James and reflect on what stereotypes are in your life and how we all can work to go beyond the stereotypes and truly "see" one another.  

—Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director

What is 'Who’s That Lady Entertainment' and why are you doing it?

Belinda J

Who’s That Lady Entertainment is an interactive website which features some of the most powerful, influential women of the decade in the entertainment, sports and business industries. Readers can learn about their favorite boss ladies and follow them daily on their own social media sites. Visitors will be amazed at how these women multi-task juggling their family, social events, charity fundraisers and career goals all year long. While browsing the site, they can also listen to an array of R&B music by DJ Rumor.
There was not a big master plan on why we created this site; it was just an idea. We just felt the need to document the achievements of women that don’t normally get a chance to shine on a regular basis. This site not only documents the achievements and day-to-day roles of women in the entertainment, sports and business industries, it also inspires one to achieve her own goals while pulling strength from those who have paved the way for future generations to enter.
What are some of the categories?
Right now we are just concentrating on entertainment, sports and business. We have also added “Who’s That Guy” because there are so many amazing, phenomenal men that we just could not leave out. We feature books written by our boss ladies and will have chat sessions for viewers to interact with their favorites as well. There is so much more we plan to add to keep our readers informed.
You have a video front and center on the site about the history of stereotypes of Black women in film.  Do you feel that this has changed?  Is it changing fast enough?
The stereotypes with Black women in film have changed. More Black women are getting leading roles. The fact that the change may have not been fast enough for some people opens the doors to many discussions. This is the type of conversation that could go on forever. The two popular shows that come to mind are Scandal and The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Do you think RHOA is popular because there are strong Black women on the show? Or is it because they are perceived as Black women who seem to have heated discussions constantly?
The show Scandal has a Black woman as the star; however, is it called Scandal because there is a Black woman having an affair with the President of the United States or is it because the star is a Black woman? Have stereotypes really changed over the years or do they just look different?
How can your website contribute to ending those negative stereotypes of Black entertainers and leaders?
To say that one person or site is going to come along and assist in putting an end to negative stereotypes with Black entertainers and leaders is like entering a black hole. When it comes to the ending of negative stereotypes, there are many lessons one must learn about why stereotypes still exist in the year 2014 and what type of mindset still allows them to take place in our society. At some point one must learn to be his or her own hero and not always feel the need to wait for someone to come along to make a change in his or her life. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. We have amazing, ordinary people who have proven this since the beginning of time. Will stereotypes among Black entertainers and leaders stop anytime soon? I cannot answer that because life always throws you a problem to see how you will solve it.

Can you tell us more about the role of entertainers in social justice and change?

Entertainers are supposed to entertain. However, if their journey puts them in a position to shed light on social justice and change, then that will be the path which leads them to change how an issue is viewed by the world.

Can you give us a few examples of the women you are featuring.

Holly Robinson Peete is a major advocate for Autism and Parkinson’s disease through her HollyRod Foundation, Debbie Allen has a wonderful dance academy for youth, and award winning producer Tracey Edmonds brings us Alright TV which is a groundbreaking YouTube premium channel with faith-friendly content. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are over 300 phenomenal women for you to read about and follow through their social sites.

Who would be interested in coming to this site?

Educators can use this site to reach today’s youth, especially those who don’t have an interest in school. Today’s youth may feel that the people they see daily don’t live exciting lives. The youth of today are very creative. Educators need to tap into that creativity by allowing them to see other creative people who are featured throughout the site.

The youth of today are very familiar with current entertainers; however, a lot of the current entertainers get their inspiration from the entertainers of yesteryear. This is a great site to learn about the challenges many of our phenomenal women and men went through before manifesting their breakthrough. When a child has something to do, someone to love, and can champion a cause that they are passionate about, that child will not have time to form an opinion of hate, bullying, or intolerance of their fellow human beings.

Who’s That Lady Entertainment has a little bit of something for anyone who would love to peek inside the entertainment, sports, and business world. With this site we are not trying to make entertainers think differently about how they should change the world.  We are trying to make people think differently about how they can make their world a little brighter. Each one of us has to do our part to solicit a change.

Belinda Trotter-James is the creator and former editor-in-chief for Hype Hair, 2 Hype, and Try It Yourself Hair national magazines. Currently she is the creative director for Who's That Lady Entertainment and the editor-in-chief for Modelocity Online magazine, an author, actress, and producer of modeling competitions for young women.

Watch what students have to say about negative stereotypes:

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