Where Are We?

So, Hope loves teenie bopper magazines. LOVES them! Seriously, whenever she finds them in a store, my girl will grab a few and plop down in the middle of the store floor and commence to getting her celebrity news fix. I have to remind her that at 12, perhaps getting comfy in the store like that isn’t really appropriate unless we’re like at Barnes and Noble where there are some couches.

I get it. I went through a phase in the last decade where reading OK!, Life & Style and Star brought me loads of entertainment. I traveled a lot, and airports seemed to get the new rags first and I would load up while on the road and thumb threw them on the plane. It was a guilty pleasure. So, while I’m over it, I get Hope’s desire to see what’s going on with all the young celebs running the streets.

About a month ago, she asked me if she could put the 37,000 posters that come in each of her magazines on the wall. Ok, sure, why not. It’s your room. She was delighted; apparently her foster placements didn’t allow her to put up posters and help make the space hers. Meh, it’s a poster, no biggie, go ‘head girl, get your celebrity scope on.

And then she plastered the wall, nearly ceiling to floor. And I helped. And I was perplexed when I stood back and looked at all the little eyeballs staring back at me.


There are even more posters that didn’t make the snapshot!

Are there really no brown and black folks doing kiddie pop? Ok there are two brown girls in a couple of random girl groups that I’d never heard of (truth: Other than Bieber, Gomez, Grande and Mahone, I hadn’t heard of any of the kids plastered on the wall). But the lack of visual diversity gracing the wall was (is) jarring to my senses. Yes, yes, I know that Selena and Ariana are Latinas, but a quick glance at the wall doesn’t allow you to really take that tidbit of info in and process it. At least little Ariana drops some Spanglish lyrics in her songs…

There aren’t any 2014 versions of little Tevin Cambell? No B2K? No New Edition? #youhavetocountmeout No BoyzIIMen? #eastcoastswing No Monica? No Brandy? #theboyismine? No Kris Kross #makeyawannajumpjump? No Urshur (Usher—I can’t stand all that extra R in the pronunciation!)?

Has young “urban” pop just fallen off the sceen? Really?

Is Hope just left with White teenie boppers making age appropriate music?

I thought I was only bemoaning the ever declining state of hip hop, what with all the hypersexualized, drug glamorization and poor lyrical prowess out there. Save a few true artists putting in work out there, hip hop just makes me shake my head these days. I cringe sometimes when Hope is reciting some songs and then there’s a 4 to 8 beat pause when she’s skipping over the foul language. #youbettanotsaythatinthishouse

But now, I also see the absence of young teenie boppers of color too.  Does that mean that, well, that’s not the type of music “We” make anymore. We make rap music or when we’re much older, we make R&B music and some of us will make Gospel and some will rock Neo-Soul. But we aren’t really doing youthful, bubblegum pop music? I can’t imagine that there’s a dearth of talented, camera ready brown and black kids out there? So where are we?

Word Up magazine is gone. Right On! magazine is gone. Juicy magazine doesn’t target the tween/teen demographic. Damn, the good mags are gone too. Remember this gem from back in the day?


Back when jheri curls were fly.



Hope wants to be a singer. She is talented musically, but singing probably isn’t her strong suit; her strengths lie in percussion. I can see it, but she can’t yet. But she still fancies herself a future singer. I wonder what subtle impact, if any, does not seeing a representation of herself on the wall means. Does that mean she’s not even going to think about singing bubble gum pop? Does it mean she’s not going to be on the Disney channel? Does it mean that she’s going to skip right over and sing hooks on the latest Little Wayne Lollipop song, because well, that’s what brown kids do? Or gasp…just be in the video? (Hey, not bashing the ladies in videos, everyone’s gotta eat, but I’m going to be pretty transparent here and disclose that one of my goals to keep my kid out of clear heels in the club or on the video set, ya feel me? I want something different for her.)

Some folks will think I’m making too much of this. But there’s a huge body of research out there on the impact of not seeing yourself represented in the media. It’s not good. Sure, folks overcome it, but those folks are the exception and not the rule. I’m losing sleep over many other, more important things as Hope continues to get settled with me, but there’s something about this wall of posters that doesn’t really include any images that look like Hope…there’s something about it that bothers me.

She’s young, she’s impressionable. She believes every stinking thing in these tabloids—the good, the bad, the ugly. She’s not particularly discerning. She’s declared on some other things that “we” (Black folk) don’t do stuff because she’s never seen it; so why would she believe brown kids like her are doing bubble pop music if she’s not seeing it?

Am I really just going to have to push more youtube videos to teach her that NSync and Backstreet Boys weren’t the only games in town back in the day? (Side note: if she asks me if the members of New Edition are still alive or have they died from old age one…more…time…)

I just wonder where the brown and black teenie bopper pop stars are.



About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

13 responses to “Where Are We?

  • thefamilyof5

    Huge Beyonce fan here! 🙂
    Will I Am is also one of my faves!
    We have Pharrell Williams and R Kelly in the charts here at the moment 🙂 I’m not ‘hip’ enough to much more than that lol

    There’s never going to be another Micheal Jackson (I loved him even as a kid) but I think there’s a few new singers out there with potential once you look past the likes of the One Direction style bands 🙂

    Our kids will never know real music like we did though eh 🙂

  • Mimi

    So… in my box of memorabilia, I have an old scrapbook of my childhood crushes, Al. B. Sure and Khiry from The Boys. I definitely feel you on this. The only group that actually comes to mind as a tween group right now is Mindless Behavior and I don’t know anything about them.

    It is interesting the kind of melding of music now which actually is more like it was when I was growing up when we listened to all type of Top 40 music including Boy George, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and others. We had so many folks to choose from but there was a very strong black offering that I don’t see now. Maybe you will have to go old school on her.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Man…..don’t make me pull out my old mix tapes! I listened to all kinds of folks as well (Boy George has new music out BTW). Music does transcend color, but there’s something about not *seeing* a reflection on the wall that struck me given how diverse music really is.

      Al B. Sure…saw him in on the NE Heartbreak tour back in the day. Yes!

  • puddin85

    Oooo…ABM ♡ Have fun! I heard those tickets were serious! *grabs Soul for Real cd*

  • robynx84

    China McLean

    • robynx84

      Oops sorry McClain 🙂

      • AdoptiveBlackMom

        Ohhh! Jazzy from House of Payne! Didn’t know she made music. Looks like she hasn’t put out anything new since 2012. I see she’s occasionally on Disney Channel, which means there’s hope to see her in my house. There are new social developments on this theme that I hope to write about soon. All very interesting! Thanks for reading!

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