From mislabelling to micro aggressions, we’ve probably seen enough Black girl tears on TV to fill an ocean.
The most recent and viral examples of the misrepresentation of Black women in British media are Nella Rose in the I’m a Celeb jungle, and Trish Balusa in Big Brother UK 2023.
Now, the Nella Rose the Black community sees is a fun, bubbly and vibrant character who oozes charisma.
However, when put on the pedestal of everyday British television, we’ve consistently seen the words ‘loud’, ‘annoying’, and ‘rude’ flouted around by the ‘Facebook Mums’.
Whether it’s ITV’s editing choices, or the UK’s poor understanding of non-white mannerisms, Nella’s warm and endearing traits have gotten lost in translation, and instead portrayed as villainous.
Nella isn’t the first Black woman to be shown in a poor light on British television, and she certainly won’t be the last.
As we previously reported, fan favourite Trish Balusa left Big Brother UK in a shock eviction, as the audience chanted “Trish for the win” just moments before she was evicted.
Trish shed tears in the house, and was vocal about the micro aggressions she faced from her fellow housemates. This included instances such as Dylan consistently calling her “loud”, and suggesting a fellow housemate was “scared” of her, as well as housemate Tom calling Trish “aggressive”.
As a fellow Black woman, I shared Trish’s frustration as I personally could see she conducted herself in a calm and collected manner throughout most of her Big Brother journey, treating the housemates with nothing but respect and open arms.
These frustrations were shared by housemate, and fellow Black woman, Noky Simbani, who too was sick of housemates labelling her as “strong” and resilient, completely discounting the fact that Black women are just as vulnerable as non-black women.
Comedian London Hughes weighed in on the discussion. Responding to a tweet which read “In your opinion, how are Black women depicted and treated on British reality television?”, London said:
“Talent based reality: They'll do well as long as they don't get "too confident" e.g - Alexandra Burke on strictly
Personality based: They can't argue or disagree with anyone because they WILL be called "aggressive" and "a bully"
Dating reality: They are not deemed attractive”
Her points stand true, with shows such as Love Island scrambling to find men who actually see Black women as desirable.
In the past, we’ve seen contestants such as Samira Mighty and Yewande Biala have their self esteem slowly eaten away, as they continued to be last pick on the island, or have their chosen partners jump ship for a non-Black woman as soon as the opportunity comes.
Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to convince British media and its consumers to empathetically understand the world through the eyes of the Black woman.
But it raises the question, how can we make British media a safe space for Black Women?