Two thumbs, eight fingers and ten toes up for your dynamic, insightful, and honest article entitled, ‘Why BET. Sucks
It was refreshing to see a young black woman of only 24 have the tenacity, insight and brutal honesty to confront the issue of black mediocrity. I am a young 41 black woman from New York who also discovered in my twenties, that “figureheads” in high places don’t equal consciousness raising. In many instances, it becomes business as usual in black face. The exception to that is that it speaks to the possibihties of what we can become.
I too, understand that businesses exist to make money and provide services and that is a good thing. We need more black owned enterprises. However, blacks can not afford to offer up quality, as in the case of BET, as the sacrificial lamb by perpetuating overt disrespect toward ourselves in their programming, an indiscretion that was historically blamed on whites. It proves that real change comes from “within.”
I was sickened by the knee jerk response to OJ by many black people as if it weren’t possible for him to corimlit a crirne. We must have looked like fools in the eyes of the planet. Didn’t black folks realize that we’ve had (have) too many reasons for legitimate outrage over bonafide problems than to waste our time on a man who is delusional at best. Are we not capable of policing our own and acknowledging wrong when it is visited at our own front door? What if Nicole Brown had been black? Would black folks have been so quick to say, “well, you know he didn’t do it” so matter of factly. Oops, what am I saying, how quickly we forget the trivialization of the rape of Desiree Washington because the perpetuator happen to be “iron” Mike Tyson. How dare this young woman cry rape against “poor Mike,” the charges came from the black community (many women included). To whatever degree Desiree may have been naive or lacked goodjudgeinent in going out so late (I did some adventurous things myseW at 18 – haven’t we all?), it did not justity rape. Black people should have supported her (black women must be protected too) but once again, a plantation mentality prevailed.
Regarding B.E.T… I thought that I was the only one who observed their programining nonsense. I no longer have cable television but during the time that I did, I thought that perhaps I kept tuning into BET at the wrong hour during my liiited time for watching television, because it was just as you described – mediocrity at its best/worse. I did not know however, that BET did not have regular news programming, I thought that I missed it or something, not being a regular watcher and all. What a disgrace!
1 don’t know what the answer is to our seemingly, collective low self-esteem but I decided a long time ago that I would not be a party, silent or otherwise, to people who assumed, because I’m black, that I should readily participate in the “amen” comer that supports black mediocrity. Those who would accuse anyone of “race treason” is not aware that their greatest contribution to society and race is ambition, excellence and talent. We should not want our children, or ourselves, to be spoon fed ‘jiggle” andjarrnnin’ on a regular basis by BET or any other station. It saddens me to think that we keep “sticking” it to ourselves.
Moreover, from a business perspective, BET would not be able to exist if there were not an audience for such “brain dead” programming which causes me to ponder, once again, what’s going on in the minds of those who support this? Nonetheless, BET’s market research must show that there is a market for quality programs. Just take a page from the ratings of PBS when it airs such shows.
Finally, your analysis of infomercials that appear on BET, among other stations too, were rigl- on target. I’ve seen the Psychic Friends Network on network tv. After viewing this charade, especially the mammy video portrayal of what turned out to be a very articulate black woman, I wanted to gather up all of my old Dionne Warwick records, including my 45 rpm of “Do You Know The Way to San Jose,” sell them to her directly, and use the funds to donate to a worthy cause. Although I realize that Dionne Warwick who, inddentally, I believe is a cousin to Whitney Houston rather than Aunt, did not produce that disgusting video piece, it was the contribution of her name recognition to support PSN that is so outrageous, as you know.
“Prime Time Live” aired a behind the scenes story on psychic hotlines last year. They revealed that businessmen were selling the psychic line idea to investors as a lucrative business venture and that specifically, black women were the prime users of the 1-900 4, presumably because they were more gullible in subscribing to fantasy than others. of course, when they attempted to contact Ms. Warwick, among others, they were “not available” for comment.
Unfortunately, since BET has not proven worthy of my subscription, I too, shall continue to support PBS (and read) when I want to watch something black.
I hope that you will send Robert Johnson your feature story article. I have a great deal of respect for his ambition and endeavor. It certainly could not have been easy for him to create a black owned cable channel. However, I think that he needs to know that there are people who share the sentiments that you expressed so well in your story. Not because there is a desire to make BET look bad but because we’d like to support it if it were better. In fact, I’ve just decided to send him a copy of this letter.
Thank you again for a job well done.