Being Mary Jane: A Black Woman’s Reality?

Originally published in The Hampton Script on Feb. 2014

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The modern day black woman is ambitious, gorgeous, and talented, but her personal life is a mess. At least that’s what the media wants us to believe. 

The highest rated dramas featuring an African American lead on the air right now introduces viewers to black women who are successful, single, and tangled in some type of complicated love affair. Is this the reality of all successful black women? 

Take Mary Jane for example. A few months ago we were introduced to the organized chaos; the BET original show Being Mary Jane. Mary Jane has the perfect career and appears to have the perfect life. But her personal life is in complete shambles. 

The twenty something media maven struggles with finding a husband, taking care of her dysfunctional family, and maintaining her position as a colored woman on a primetime talk show. 

Being Mary Jane is a modern day example of art depicting life. By life, I mean the life of the modern day successful black woman. 

The man of her dreams turns out to be someone else’s. Before she can end things, she has already fallen in love with him. ring a bell? The way Hampton’s ratio is set up, a lot of women have claimed a man that has already been spoken for. 

Katrina Martin, a sophomore biology major from Denver, Co. said “I love the show because it really describes my life. I can relate to her in all aspects.”

I’m sure it describes a lot of young women’s lives because the debut episode reached four million views and Mary Jane has been a constant conversation on Twitter. 

Is this the new modern day black woman? Are a lot of black women becoming Mary Jane? 

Shekara Brooks, a freshman marketing major from Baltimore, Md. said “black women have to work three times as hard to get a successful career.” Brooks went on to explain that this focus on achieving professional success causes other aspects of their life such as romantic and intimate relationships can become messy. 

It is true that black women have to work very hard to attain the same success as their more fair skinned peers, but should she put everything else in her life to the side for her career? 

Hampton women, understand Mary Jane, love Mary Jane, console Mary Jane, but don’t become Mary Jane.