In case you've never heard the phrase "ghetto polygamy," consider this to be your formal introduction to the wretchedness that some have come to define as "black culture." Oxygen has decided to give a platform to ignorance by creating a show featuring the rapper Shawty Lo, his 10 babies' mamas and the 11 unfortunate children who have the pleasure of being born in the middle of a pile of irresponsible bullsh*t.
If you think I'm being harsh on Mr. Lo, the fact remains that I could never be as hard on this brother as he is being on his kids, many of whom are going to grow up wondering if their daddy actually loves them. I've spent my life raising children of fathers who are all too eager to spread their seed without accountability, and I found myself hurt to the core when witnessing the intense emotional damage that comes from having a father who doesn't give a damn (my own biological father also abandoned me at birth, so yes, this is personal for me). There's nothing wrong with a man having a lot of kids, and we can even justify some of them living in different households. But 11 children with 10 women is like spraying your sex organs in every direction without thinking much about the target.
But here are some thoughts I had when hearing about this show (appropriately called All My Babies' Mamas), which I'm sure will be the biggest thing to hit the TV screen since Flavor of Love and Driving Miss Daisy -- thanks to Oxygen, Shawty Lo might be able to pay that child support after all:
1) Someone needs to call the Center for Disease Control: People do realize that in order to get a woman pregnant, you typically have to have unprotected intercourse? Also, if we presume that it takes multiple tries with multiple partners to get a woman pregnant, there are probably several dozen instances of unprotected interludes that take place over time. What is scariest is that some people run through a lot of partners and have never in their life gotten a full STD panel of tests at the doctor's office. This is a crisis in the making, and someone has to speak up about it.
Oh yea, anyone who sleeps with a man just because he's famous should realize that you're also sleeping with dozens (or even hundreds) of other people that the man has been with. That's just flat out nasty.
2) Collecting babies' mamas is one of the easiest ways to go broke: An immature man gets excited when he finds that every woman wants him. A more mature man realizes that too much female attention can be a curse, like an obese man with heart disease working in a bakery that offers him free food. Having a long list of mating partners increases the chances that a stripper named Shaquanda ends up taking you to court every time she hears that you got a raise on your job or a new record deal. She also wants her money even if your record deal is now expired and you're trying to survive with a 12th grade education. I've seen far too many brothers singing the child support blues after forgetting about the importance of a man being selective about where he chooses to plant his seed. Yes: most men are attracted to beautiful women, but gluttonous and short-sighted behavior is a great way to destroy your life.
3) Most people with "multi-baby-mama-itis" obviously care nothing for their children: Producing a bunch of children with a stack of babies' mamas with no plan to care for the children is one of the most selfish things that a man can do. Mothers who are complicit in such plans or who keep the child's father out of his/her life are also to blame. Your children now barely have a chance to succeed in this world, and it's your fault. There's no reason for me to be nice when saying this, because you weren't being very nice to your kids by bringing them into the world in a manner that positions them for failure. Even the most well-intended parent is going to have trouble giving appropriate time, resources and attention to 11 children in 10 different homes. It's damn near impossible.
4) This is commercialized hip-hop at its finest: I'm not sure who decided in hip-hop that black men are supposed to have s*x with everything that moves. Adopting these destructive cultural norms not only leads to the rampant spread of STDs, it is also a huge disservice to the millions of children being born in unstable situations. The white man doesn't have to kill us if we've already agreed to kill ourselves and each other: Commercialized hip-hop's steady formula of excessive drug/alcohol consumption, promotion of gun violence, financial irresponsibility and s*xual promiscuity does a great job of keeping us on the psychological plantation.
5) What in the *&^% is wrong with Oxygen? Perhaps the Shawty Lo show is Oxygen's black male version of "Honey Boo Boo." In both cases, a middle class audience is lured in to make fun of the lives of lower class Americans. I'm not sure what Oxygen hopes to accomplish with this show, but I'm sure Shawty Lo will be the next great black role model propped up by the oppressive tradition of Hollywood... they can put his picture right next to Martin Luther King and the rapper 2Chainz. Maybe some of the show's income can be used to pay for these kids to get a good education along with therapy to overcome the abuse and trauma that all too often happens to children who don't have a father at home to protect them.
Forgive me for being emotional as I share my thoughts about this show. But the truth is that we have to speak up for our children. We have to call out ignorance when we see it and challenge ourselves to make better decisions. Many of our outcomes are imposed upon us by an oppressive society, that is absolutely true. But in far too many cases, these problems are due to an oppressive partnership in which we have become willing participants.
Let's go ahead and kill the stupidity so Shawty Lo's children can become better parents than him. Also, this story is a reminder that we must show appreciation to those powerful men who take their parental obligations seriously. They don't get the recognition they deserve, and they will never get a reality show. So, if there is a strong black man in your life, please go and tell him "thank you."
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, "Commercialized Hip-Hop: The Gospel of Self Destruction." To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.