Jam Donaldson has been called a traitor to her race, says Eva Wiseman in the London Observer. Donaldson, a 34-year-old African-American lawyer in Washington, D.C., is the founder of HotGhettoMess.com, a website dedicated to showcasing what she calls “the dysfunctional elements of our black community.” The site was recently spun off into a TV program on Black Entertainment Television, which features viewers’ home videos of ghetto life. But it’s Donaldson’s website that has proved most controversial. The site features pictures of scantily clad black women and of men with gold teeth driving pimped-out cars; those pictures are framed with inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. Donaldson says her purpose is to spark self-reflection within the African-American community. “Culturally, you used to be ashamed to have a baby and not a husband,” she says. “You were ashamed to go out with a revealing dress on. We lost that shame.” But critics say she’s trafficking in stereotypes and lending comfort to racists: In fact, her website has been praised by the Ku Klux Klan. But Donaldson is pressing on, fired by her belief in the power to shame. “You may not agree with my tactic, but my generation is ironic, subversive, and sarcastic. That voice is what I bring to the debate,” she says. “I’m willing to go far to spread my message: We’ve got to do better.”
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An unvarnished look at black culture
March 27, 2008
of The Week magazine.