BGN interviewed founder Sil Lai Abrams about her organization and the mission of Truth in Reality:
Tell readers what is Truth In Reality and why is this organization important for women?
Truth in Reality is a grassroots media advocacy organization committed to changing the way Black women and interpersonal violence are portrayed on reality television. Our goal is to challenge the harmful values these shows promote and change the standards of broadcast practices for the reality television genre. Through digital activism, public awareness campaigns and educational programs we aim to change society’s acceptance of interpersonal violence and ultimately reduce its incidence in the Black community. The media is a powerful entity that for better or worse, shapes our perspectives and values. Violence between and against women, particularly women of color, is being normalized in our culture. Black women have the highest rates of domestic violence in the U.S. We need to address the root causes of violence, one of which is our community’s acceptance and embracing of violence in all forms.
Is this organization targeted towards certain reality shows?
Our focus is less on the shows themselves than on the viewers who watch them and the cable networks who produce the content.
What kind of feedback have you received from the public regarding your cause?
The response has been good. It’s taking some time to catch on, but we’re starting to get reactions and buy in from folks who believe in our mission.
Since reality TV has such a profound effect and influence on young viewers, do you think TIR will have an impact on the viewing public?
Absolutely. Not immediately, of course. But as young people become aware of how much they are being exploited and damaged by negative messaging, some will change their habits. Some people, young and old, don’t want to hold themselves responsible for their choices overall…it takes effort to be conscious. But in the end, either we choose consciousness or we choose self-destruction.
How have TV executives responded to your cause? Are they supportive or have you received resistance?
Ha ha...have you worked with content creators that depict positive messages (i.e, web series producers), and is there any way to illustrate their works instead of focusing on negative reality shows?
No, haven’t worked with content creators – yet. But it is definitely on our radar to promote new and innovative programming. Our main focus right now is to raise awareness of the issue. To let folks know that what they’re consuming is slowly but surely harming their mind, body and spirit.
What is your message for black women that support these kinds of shows that degrade our community?
Nothing happens in a vacuum. There is no such thing as guilt free, harmless “ratchet” reality show entertainment. Please understand that every time they tune in, they let the networks know they approve of the messaging of the show. It’s just like in our intimate relationships-as long as we continue to tolerate bad behavior from our partners, there is no incentive for them to do better. If you want better programming, we need to require better programming-which we show by not co-signing negative shows.
Where can our readers learn more about your organization and what can we do to help?
Please visit our website at www.truthinreality.org
and sign our Change.org petition. Also, post our website on your social networks and consider hosting a reality check party-instruction are in our free Media Advocacy Toolkit which is available for download on our site.