Michaela Angela Davis Gives us “Bury the Ratchet”

michaela angela davis - bury the ratchetYou may know her as “MAD Free.” You may know her simply as Michaela. But, regardless of how you have come to know her, Michaela Angela Davis’ influence and efforts to better the images of women of color is well worth noting. She is the foremost image activist and public speaker on all things Black women. And, in December 2012, we learned of a new initiative she is spearheading called “Bury the Ratchet.” The campaign targets negative images of Black women in the media specifically those depicting Black women in Atlanta as “ratchet” and uncouth. But, the effort means so much more than that.

“Bury the Ratchet” is an inspirational and aspirational movement because it draws attention to the fact that Black women are often depicted negatively in the media. With shows like Love and Hip Hop, and Real Housewives of Atlanta (among others), Black women are often depicted as struggling one-dimensional characters with no moral or professional compass. A new show, Married to Medicine, was even recently rallied against via Facebook under Davis’ campaign’s pen name when the cast were in a brawl on national television.

Davis’ efforts are to draw attention away from these negative images toward images of successful, professional, and accomplished Black women in the Atlanta area. But, in a much larger sense, her effort underscores much of what The Worth Campaign is about.

Ratchetness Authenticity

So, you may not know what the term “ratchet” means. In essence, the terms refers to behavior from a male or female which is low-brow, disrespectful, self-denigrating, or outright foul. Often, Black women carry this trope under the stereotype of the “Sapphire” or the angry Black woman. The neck rolling, tongue smacking, finger snapping characterization of the Black woman is what one would call “ratchet.” And, sadly, little miss ratchet is all over the air waves and television today. But, the truth is, folks are not born that way. Because these images are repeated over and over again, young men and women of color are socialized to believe that these images in the crooked room of society are a social norm.

Davis’ campaign is to, in essence, change the posture of those folks who conform to ratchetness and help them align to an authentic center. This is a center where Black folks are successful and respectful of one another. In an interview with Jacque Reid, Davis made it very clear that her initiative targets the visual impact of these negative images.

“We want to change the mind of young women who absorb these images. The first thing we are doing is giving these women a voice.”

By changing these images, Davis believes that young women of color will be less likely to absorb the negativity.

Davis’ movement is much-needed. And, in many ways, it is long overdue. Young women of color have operated in environments where stereotypes are the norm for quite some time now. And, while ratchet is a newer label, it hearkens back to the tropes of yore. Michaela Angela Davis is working to alleviate the damage this and many other negative images can cause. And, for that, she is our newest spotlight for “Giving” for giving to women of color. Let’s stay attuned to all the great things this Violet has in store. Here at The Worth Campaign, we feel she is just getting started.

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