Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sisterhood: The Salt-N-Pepa show

There’s nothing more complex than relationships between and amongst women. And these chosen sister friends are sometimes as close as blood relatives with the waters being just as tumultuous. Your girls, they love you fiercely, have been there to celebrate the milestones and support you during the rough patches. So what happens when your personal Rock of Gibraltar is the betrayer and the source of the hurt? Welcome to The Salt-N-Pepa Show and every woman’s story.

Sonia Sanchez wrote a collection of poems entitled, Wounded In The House of A Friend. The friend’s home is a metaphor for the world and how she/we are injured and injure each other daily. And hurt, injury and tension are evident if you watched the premiere of VH1’s The Salt-N-Pepa Show back in October of 2007 and it stills rises insistently to the surface as these two Black women attempt to heal and understand each others pain in a relationship/business partnership that spans over two decades. When Salt N’Pepa dropped of the scene they had introduced themselves to a new generation of listeners, given their faithful diehard fans just what they wanted (more) and shown that thirty-something post baby mommies look real good. With their multi-platinum album, Very Necessary and the monster En Vogue collaborative hit Whatta Man they were truly at the top of their game.

What most of us didn’t know about were the silences, grudges and hurt that ate away at these two women through the years. The same silences, grudges and hurt that eat away the good in any relationship if you allow it to. Last week’s episode of VH1’s top rated Salt-N-Pepa Show had the ladies meeting with Life Coach and Self-Help Author Iyanla Vanzant to try to let go and move past their hurt about each other’s actions and the past. I was most awed by Salt and Pepa’s genuine desire to create a space for the other to live as the woman that each is today. I saw in their exposing this very real aspect of their relationship something they have always been great at doing; reflecting positive not perfect images of Black women.

It is indeed rare to find in TV land quality female characters and if you want a quality Black female character those are virtually non-existent. What you are more likely to find are random/token Black characters that just happen to live and/or work in whatever made up all white suburb the sitcom takes place in with no sign of familial or cultural ties. In the landscape of television Black Women continue to disappear (The CW network recently and abruptly cancelled the popular all Black sitcom Girlfriends) while leaving viewing options like The Bad Girls Club. Right about now The Salt-N-Pepa Show is looking like an oasis in a desert wasteland. Whether the ladies are taking a road trip to participate in a Jena 6 solidarity protest with their children, making an HIV/AIDS prevention PSA for the Lifebeat organization or saving their friendship they continue to uphold the very real tradition of being Black women who come from something.

-Adisa Vera Beatty

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