Despite its name, reality TV is anything but. Arguments are often set up and tense situations are regularly manufactured in an effort to spark drama, and hopefully garner high ratings. But when on-screen arguments involve black folks, and specifically black men, why is it that we are often made to appear violent and out of control?

In a recent episode of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, former late night host Arsenio Hall got into it with with former Danity Kane member Aubrey O’Day. Apparently, Hall was pissed that O’Day attempted to take control of the task that he was in charge of, and although he held his tongue throughout the project in an effort to keep the peace, when the team got into the boardroom he let his true feelings be known.

After the boardroom, the team retreated to their suite to await Donald Trump’s decision. Although O’Day didn’t rejoin her team, Arsenio’s frustrations boiled over and he continued venting to his teammates, telling them that O’Day wasn’t “going nowhere” in the competition because she was only out for herself.

Although Hall was extreme in his language, his frustrations were valid. However, teammate and New Jersey Housewife Teresa Giudice (who’s known for flipping over tables) said Hall’s outburst was scary and Comedian and Apprentice contestant Lisa Lampanelli described it as violent.

This isn’t the first time black men have been made out to look “violent” because of their argument style.

During the first season of MTV’s The Real World, writer and activist Kevin Powell became the embodiment of the scary black man stereotype when he argued with Julie, the sweet innocent downhome girl. The show painted Powell as overly concerned with race and, of course, perpetually angry.

While these depictions make for juicy TV, they also further the notion that people need to be afraid of black men–all of them. Even the seemingly nice ones, as Giudice says she thought of Hall, can turn on you in a minute.

These on-screen images not only fall in line with commonly held stereotypes, but also set up situations when everyday people transfer their fears of black men onto any and every black man they meet. They also set up situations in which a young man is deemed suspicious because he’s wearing a hoodie and walking in a “good” neighborhood at dusk. As the tragic death of Trayvon Martin shows us, the constant portrayal of black men as scary, angry, and potentially violent can lead to very real and disastrous results.

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  • mamareese

    They all came across as passionate about their point to me. It’s the stereotype that comes with being a black man that puts the other cast members on edge. If you pale the skin and replay the scene it’s just a guy getting emotional about something that upset him…..

  • Woah the Producers are definitely on Arsenio’s side…

    Arsenio has been on Aubrey’s case since episode one (before they were teammates) I wouldn’t have used this scenario as an example…

  • Shirl

    RC because I have good black men in my life I can’t fathom where you are coming from. I also have two wonderful sons so when there is some unnecessary black man bashing it bothers me. I know it’s done to black women all the time (we’re loud, have bad attitudes, are the least attractive of all races etc. )but I don’t buy in to the hype. We are indeed Queens! The backbone of our race! Our beauty is unmatched. Don’t let the ignorance of some black males spoil it for all. The good ones are definitely worth loving. There’s nothing more precious than Black Love. Oh and did anybody think that Arsenio may have just been scared of Theresa’s unusually low hairline and lashed out at it. I know I am.

    • QoNewC


      Thanks but no thanks. Im a black woman. Im not anyone’s back bone and Im not a Queen. Some black women have unmatchable beauty and some look like gremlins.

      Dont worry about those women. If they truly didnt care, they wouldnt have commented at all but like the attention-wh*** that they are, they needed to come in here, some say ish and have everyone comment so that they could hopefully segue into colorism, racio mysgony, hip hop, white women, inter racial dating, beings mules of the earth, natural hair, rap videos, Sojouner Truth, weave glue etc. Dont even bother. When they have truly left, we will know by their silence. They still hear talking, they still care. What they want is attention. The attention they never got in high school. The brothers were too busy looking at light skinned girls while they stood in the corner sweating out their Sunday press.

    • edub

      “the brothers were too busy looking at light skinned girls while they stood in the corner sweating out their Sunday press.”


    • CHE


      L.M.A.O. at you as usual… calling people *attention whores*…..all this from a demon who trolls Black women sites(the ones youre not banned from) to spread your poison to women you hate and women who hold you in contempt…..and you still cant stay away. You really want our attention and love? dont you?. Your life with your Asian husband must suck(poor guy)….because if you hate STRANGERS…well… LOL! Your obvious unhappiness and pain is very enjoyable; Carry on!.

  • Shirl

    QoNewC: wasn’t referring to the physical when I meantioned beauty. When I mentioned black love I meant Loving ones self. I am mom in my little community. The kids come to me when they need to talk, are having problems etc. I can’t do much monetarily but I can be the backbone. Personally I think ALL women are Queens!!! I get where you’re coming from though and your last sentence tickled the hell outa me “while they stood in the corner sweating out their sunday press” haha. So whether you think so or not you my dear are a Queen!

    • QCastle

      Your a good woman and the community you serve may not deserve you. Thanks.

  • modern lady

    Show of hands-before this article, who knew The Apprentice was still on?

    • I came across this on the web the other day. I didn’t know it was on! Once, they started bring this fakelebrities, I stopped watching. I was a STAN for it, when it was regular people, fighting it out on the corporate boardroom. That was hella sexy! Especially, when there was a sista holding it down-not Omorasa!