Last week, Michaela Angela Davis spoke with Jacque Reid on the Tom Joyner Morning Show about a new campaign she is spearheading at Spelman College called “Bury the Ratchet”. Davis is a leading image activist that works to transform the ideologies associated with popular depictions in today’s society and culture by supporting and promoting positive images.

Davis described the campaign as an awareness project to reduce negative messages that have become associated with women of color from Atlanta because of reality television shows. In the interview, Davis says that the project is more of a “pro-leadership” campaign rather than an “anti-reality show” movement.

“[Many women] find when they say are from Atlanta the first image that comes to mind is mean, gold digging women….It has become completely evident that there has been a brand of women from Atlanta that are adverse to what most of these women are like,” Davis says. The image activist described how show producers seem to only pinpoint one type of black woman to represent Atlanta, those that represent violence and “black girl pain”.

“The goal [of the movement] is to get the spotlight off the ratchetness and on the successful women in Atlanta”.

Through a symposium at Spelman College in March 2013, Davis, along with other community leaders and scholars, will engage in an open conversation about the role reality television is playing within African-American culture and its impacts on society. The goal of the movement will be to produce a PSA of sorts that will publicize how young women of color truly feel about how they are being portrayed by media corporations.

Davis’ project sounds ambitious, but like Joyner show hosts pointed out the biggest question is one of pure practicality: can you truly change what people believe without altering what pictures are streaming through their television screens?

Davis resoundingly says yes.

“We want to change the mind of young women who absorb these images. The first thing we are doing is giving these women a voice.”

Ultimately, Davis’ concept is one of verbal and visual power that could eventually catch on amongst the thousands of women who choose to express their distaste for shows like “Basketball Wives” on Twitter. But it appears that the great premise that lies in the Bury The Ratchet campaign should be scaled. The chocolate city of the south is not the only region plagued by fist-yielding women in tight dresses. Reality shows have ratchified young women of color from the east to west coast, turning innocent girls into twerk team wannabes that constantly capture black hostility through social media. Davis’ project is one of promise that will hopefully spark conversation in communities of color throughout the nation. By creating dialogue, the “Bury the Ratchet” campaign will help more women reconsider the images they chose to support and the definitions of black women that they seek to change.

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  • AJ

    I think this is a nice idea. No seriously. My only issue is that the audience that would attend a symposium at Spelman are clearly NOT the problem.

    • hmmmmm

      That’s a great point which leads me to ask, anyone else feel this ghetto subculture is thisclose to becoming the main culture in the BC? I cringe at the thought but when I look around SMH.

    • leelah

      most people in the ghetto are to busy trying to make it. Its not ghetto subculture. Its step n fetch it culture. Its a whole bunch of wealthy black folks who don’t even live in the ghetto acting ‘black’ for the white media because they know whats expected of them.–rick ross, tami and eve and shaunie, even jay-z wouldn’t have an audience if they started talking about their everyday life in the burbs. we need to stop villifying the ghetto and celebrate the positive culture that is there instead of always teaching our children to look up and out of their community for salvation.

    • dirtychai

      As leelah stated, this is not necessarily “ghetto” culture. I’m tired of that noun being used as a adjective that misrepresents reality. These Louis Vuttion Queens are far removed form that life. The only thing that everyday women in poverty relate to is their seemingly lack of education and desperation to have a voice, no matter how they get it.
      Yes, there needs to be a strong leadership that is just as vocal about showing Black women and girls that there are more women who have made it using their smarts and earning respect than those cutting the fool on TV.

    • a.c.

      how do you know for sure that the audience that attends a symposium at Spelman is not part of the problem? Spelman so many free speaking engagements, open to the public, and Atlanta residents do not hesitate to walk through those gates, take a seat, and listen to the great speakers that come to the campus. Spelman is the perfect place for something like this.

  • I appreciate that this is pro-leadership. Leaderships is what we need more than anything right now with so many lost Black women and misinformed people who are exposed to these type of stereotypes.

  • Val

    Okay, this is great but. why is she dragging Spelman into this? She needs to go out into the communi8ties where these people live. Spelman women have nothing to do with all that nonsense.

    • Smilez_920

      I’m sure there are women at at spell man who watch these reality tv shows . Im sure there are students at spelman who plan on working in the tv and media industry who will be faced with these stereotypes on a daily bases .

      At one point in time HBCU’S were meant to influence the communities that were surrounded them. Maybe Ms. Davis feels that if her message can hold weight on campus, the younger generation will spread it through out the community with her .

    • Smilez_920

      Please excuse the typos … Auto correct + touch screen not a good look at times

    • Shirl

      Good point!!

    • Leo the Yardie Chick

      Val, you’d be surprised at how many ‘ratchet’ people there are in the Cream of The Crop colleges and neighbourhoods. Just get them into a spot where they feel comfortable, and you’d clutch your pearls at the transformation.

    • LOL THIS! As someone mention above the “hood” gets a bad wrap, not everybody in the hood are “ratchet”, jumping tables, starting fights, throwing drinks, cussing each other out, etc. Status (no matter where you are located on the socio-econmic pole) don’t buy class! You can find people that as you say make you “clutch your pearls” in all walks of life not just slumming in the hood. That is a common misconception, people who seems to have “made it” just gets a pass or hides it better so don’t believe the hype!

  • Mo

    I see your “ratchet” and raise you a “Honey Boo Boo”. I follow with a side of Jersey Shore and a little bit of Duck Dynasty to finish.

    Other cultures embrace the trash, the difference is the trash is not assumed to represent the lot of them as is frequently the case with our community.
    I am all for burying the “ratchet” if they mean negative behaviors that are detrimental to our community, but I think we should be careful about judging/shamimg people because they may speak, dress, style their hair or name their children in ways we who are “non-rachet” do not approve of if they are otherwise good people. We can celebrate of differences.

    • LolaWrites

      That’s what I was trying to say… sort of.

    • SS25

      I got your point. People are so afraid of what “those people” make “us” look like. In reality ratchet or not the view us all the same. Instead of distancing ourselves lets help each other evolve and do better. Why must we always try to seek white approval.

    • SS25


    • Smilez_920

      I agree to a certain extent. I think if we had more variety of black culture in media , the ” war on ratchet” wouldn’t really be in motion. I also agree that we should use this as a way to shame ppl.

      But ghetto is’nt really used as a word to celebrate a differnt culture . It’s pretty much used to describe igronance. I mean lets be honest a lot of ghetto culture is based in igronance. Ex: speech. Now I have no problem with ppl using a slang word , I even use slang sometimes. And even my grammer is a little off at times . But, acting as if you have no concept of the English language is ridiculous. That’s the kind of thing that leads blk children to think that talking proper = talking white .

      ( now hair, clothing or how you name your child is a differnt story , I don’t think ppl should be shamed for that , that’s something I could look at as cultural differences ).

  • I absolutely love what MAD stands for, and the work that she’s done in the past. I’m also not the biggest reality TV show fan, and while I don’t necessarily agree with some of the images that are displayed, I do think that creative freedom should allow for those images……so long as they aren’t the only images. It would seem that a bigger issue continues to be that Black Americans are seen as a monolith, and the image of one is applied to all rather than the acknowledgement that diversity exists within the race. Case in point: movies like ‘The Hangover’ don’t automatically lead audiences to believe that all White males’ lives are consumed by drinking…..but the same discernment isn’t applied to the perception of Black women after viewing an epi of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta’? This is possibly because White males are given more latitude in the roles that they are offered & that are made available to them compared to Black women. It’s difficult for me to find television shows that I find relatable, consequently Netflix & Youtube have become my mediums of choice where I can either indulge in the sci-fi shows & dramas that interest me (& that also often lack diversity in their casts) or the classic Black shows of the 90’s….which have more depth than any recent Black show that I’ve come across as of late. But back to the story at hand: I do support this effort and hope that it does lead to the questioning of the pervasiveness of certain images of Black women in the media, and hopefully opens the door (or at least leads to a dialogue) for more diverse representations of Blackness. But there are so many more layers to this issue……

    • simplyme

      this. <3