It’s Tough Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta
For the last few weeks, I’ve been fascinated with Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta. Watching people whose music served as the soundtrack of my teenage years deal with the same life experiences as my own – love, family, and business – feels like a voyeuristic privilege. The Hip Hop Drama works to normalize public perception of people who are often cast as “far away” or “untouchable” due to their celebrity status. While television allows us to humanize many celebrities, it is also a double-edged sword that can demonize others.
This is certainly the case with Reginae Carter, daughter of rapper Lil’ Wayne and author Toya Wright. Each week, we’re treated to the spoiled and borderline disrespectful antics of the young Miss Carter. Whether she’s inserting herself into comment wars between grown men or mouthing off to her mother, you can best believe that Reginae is going to get people talking about her character on #GUHHATL each week.
Reginae’s behavior is often excused by the people who should be most accountable for her: her mother, friends, and even her parents’ friends. She doesn’t even repay their oversights of her bad behaviors with her loyalty.
In Episode 1, she betrays the word given to her friend Zonnique to stay out of the conflict between their fathers (Zonnique is the stepdaughter of rapper-actor T.I.).
In Episode 2, she doubles down on the betrayal saying she was just “defending [her] dad.” In Episode 3, she threatens her ally-Mommy with the intervention of her Dad when she’s refused an elaborate 18th birthday bash.
In Episode 4, she calls her Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, her mama’s BFF, to strong arm her mother into a huge birthday bash. And it’s a pattern that sees no ebb in its flow, even 6 episodes into the season.
It’s time we admit it: Reginae Carter is an unrepentant secondhand bully.
A bully is a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. While I’d love to outright call her a bully, the truth is she has neither strength nor power. She wields the influence of her parents’ prominence as a force against everyone else, including the two of them. Take the argument between Brandon Barnes (son of Deb Antney) and Reginae.
In Episode 2, we find Zonnique at a photoshoot trying to establish her adulthood with a new sexy look. She’s being supported by her friend Reginae. Brandon, her vocal coach, shows up and is a bit confused about the look as it ran contrary to the branding and image conversations they’d previously had. Reginae takes umbrage to Brandon’s commentary and begins to agitate the situation, trading barbs with Brandon before fleeing the scene after he makes comments about her father “the hip hop icon Lil’ Wayne” [their words, certainly not mine].
Brandon, at 26, absolutely should have found a way to de-escalate the situation. But, can we acknowledge the two wrongs here? Can we acknowledge that while Brandon was too grown to go back and forth with a child, Reginae spends too much time provoking grown people only to cry about the response she garners? At what point is “she’s a child” going to lose its value as an excuse?
Staying in a Child’s Place?
This is typical Reginae behavior (and I continued to watch the season before penning this to be sure). And given her mama’s mouth and her father’s tendency to have diarrhea of the mouth, she comes by it honest. She antagonizes and provokes others only to call in the cavalry (her parents) when she’s talked herself into writing checks that her ass can’t cash. While I’m totally a fan of young women having a voice and establishing independence, it should be tempered with a knowledge of picking your battles. Instead Reginae presumes that her identity as the child of someone else extends to herself, making her the penultimate secondhand bully.
We know children bully; we’re running entire campaigns in our nation’s schools around anti-bullying. So we cannot excuse her behavior as simply child-like. Reginae, now 18, is a master manipulator and habitual line stepper who has wholly overblown her parents’ ability to protect her. While we should nurture the independence and courageous outspoken nature of women, we need to prepare them to navigate the world as well. Reginae’s secondhand bullying is going to garner her a firsthand fall flat on her face if she’s not careful.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The bLink Marketing Network and Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta. The opinions and text are all mine.