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With New Show Following Father of 34 Children, Is Oprah Showing How She Really Feels About Black Community?

Jay Williams on Iyanla's show
Jay Williams on Iyanla’s show

There has been considerable debate within the Black community over the years about whether Oprah Winfrey truly cared about Black people. With the announcement this week that her OWN network is airing a television series about an Atlanta man who has fathered 34 children with 17 different women, the debate appears to be settled: No, she doesn’t.

If she cared about the narratives of her people that mainstream society around the world has perpetuated for years, she would be horrified by the idea of giving hours of precious airtime to just about the most extreme case of Black male irresponsibility she could find.

The man, Jay Williams, got his 15 minutes of fame when he appeared on another show on Winfrey’s OWN network, Iyanla Vanzant’s Iyanla: Fix My Life. But apparently that wasn’t enough. In a craven grab for ratings, she decided to give him his very own platform to show the world the mess he’s made of his life. According to the description that’s been floating around the media over the last two days, the still untitled series will follow Williams as he tries to establish new connections with his children and their mothers.

Apparently Winfrey learned no lessons from the Oxygen Network’s painful experience two years ago with “All My Babies’ Mamas,” the show that was to feature the real-life dramas of rapper Shawty Lo and his 10 baby mamas and their 11 children, all thrown together in a festering stew of ugly stereotypes enacted for all the world on the small screen. The outcry was so extreme, with petition drives capturing thousands of signatures, that two weeks later Oxygen reversed itself and announced that it was canceling the show before it ever aired.

It will be interesting to see if the same outcry is geared up for the iconic Winfrey, whose network thus far has featured a mishmash of shows that can uplift its audience and then quickly debase them, all in a regular day of programming.

In addition to the show with Williams, Winfrey’s network announced another new show, following Evelyn Lozada of “Basketball Wives” and her life with baseball player Carl Crawford and their first child. That’s not likely to fall under the uplifting category.



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