Essay: Why I Signed Up For Reality TV Show, 'Love Thy Sister'

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The Rucker Sisters
From L to R: Ruby Rucker, Ione Rucker, and Ellen Rucker Carter of WE tv's "Love Thy Sister."Love Thy Sister, WE tv

Before we get started, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not a celeb-u-tant.

I am a licensed chiropractor, successful entrepreneur and a mother. I am highly educated, confident, intelligent and driven; and, up until a short time ago, I had absolutely no desire to be on television – reality or otherwise. So when my sisters and I were approached about opening our homes to camera crews so that our lives could be documented and broadcast for a national viewing audience, I was skeptical to say the least.

...It’s not enough to complain about the misrepresentations, negative images and glass ceilings. Sometimes you have to be willing to stand up yourself and put your story out and hope that it resonates.

Don’t get me wrong, I saw the potential benefits that our show "Love Thy Sister" on WE tv could bring to our family businesses, especially our new hair care product line, and the Rucker Education Scholarship Fund. That kind of exposure is hard to ignore and even harder to turn down.

But would it be worth it? I mean, I’ve seen the typical reality television story lines, and that’s not who we are. Sure, my sisters and I may argue sometimes, but none of us would ever be caught dead in the kind of neck-scratching, hair pulling brawls that pass for standard fare on most of these shows. Why would I subject myself and my family to a medium whose typical portrayal of African-American women is far from my reality?

Then, a funny thing happened. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became about how women in general, and African American women in particular, are so negatively and poorly portrayed on television, especially reality television. I convinced myself that "Love Thy Sister" could be something different. After all, we aren’t a caricature of the modern Black family, we are the real thing—three loving sisters journeying through life together.

So what would happen if instead of the typical “streetwise queen bee who doesn’t take any lip from anyone,” America got to meet my sister Ruby, an accomplished attorney, loving wife and mother who’s pressed through her own personal and financial crucibles with determination and grace and emerged stronger than ever?

What if instead of the “diamond princess looking for a new man to finance her extravagant lifestyle,” we got to know my sister Ione, the brilliant young dreamer who holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education trying to make her own way in this world while raising three young children?

What if instead of the “bounce back basketball wife” you met me – committed, determined and ready to start a new life with the love of my life, but also absolutely terrified along the way? Imagine if you saw my real insecurities and doubt instead of the false bravado of a tough girl act. Imagine if you decided my fears weren’t that different from your own and witnessed that, if I can overcome them, anyone can. Would that make a difference?

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became about how women in general, and African American women in particular, are so negatively and poorly portrayed on television, especially reality television.

Maybe our culture is too far gone, and there’s no place in broadcast media for genuine, positive real women. But maybe it does matter. Maybe it’s time to show folks that the modern Black family is more than a bunch of caricatures and of wisecracking stereotypes.

At the end of the day, my sisters and I decided to open ourselves, our families and our homes with "Love Thy Sister" because it’s not enough to complain about the misrepresentations, negative images and glass ceilings. Sometimes you have to be willing to stand up yourself and put your story out and hope that it resonates with those who watch. So, that’s exactly what we did.

It’s been quite the journey, and I sincerely hope you’ll continue to join us along the way as we attempt to broaden the spectrum of what a modern African-American family looks like.

The Rucker Sisters
From L to R: Ruby Rucker, Ione Rucker, and Ellen Rucker Carter of WE tv's "Love Thy Sister."Love Thy Sister, WE tv
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